Stange realises 'mistakes', promises better communication with Lions
Bernd Stange's job is safe for now.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) executive committee met yesterday morning to discuss, among other things, the national football coach's future in the wake of the Lions' failure to defend their AFF Suzuki Cup crown on home soil last month.
In a release sent to the press, the association confirmed that the 66-year-old German will see out the rest of his contract, which has been extended to after the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in June.
Stange's two-year contract was originally supposed to end in May, but The New Paper understands that the former Belarus and Iraq coach would receive a four-month extension that would see him guide Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar at the biennial tournament.
Stange is in Germany at the moment and could not be contacted but, in an FAS release yesterday, he said: "I had earlier submitted a review of the national team's performance to the FAS management, and I have since received their feedback on a few matters.
"I have taken the feedback from the management and the team seriously and will adopt key suggestions as we prepare for three key assignments in the next six months: the national team's World Cup qualifiers, the Under-23 team's SEA Games competition and the U-22's participation in the AFC U-22 qualifiers.
"I will learn from, and rectify, the mistakes we had made and aim to make our team stronger and better.
"I am fully focused on the next assignment, and I would like to thank the FAS, its management and staff, our teams and players and our stakeholders, including the fans and the media, for their support towards me and the team."
When asked to clarify what those "mistakes" were, an FAS spokesman said: "The FAS and coach Bernd agreed that he should have communicated more with the players so that both parties understand each other better.
"When he returns next year, he plans to work on this gap as part of his efforts to make the team stronger and better."
Two issues that were reportedly brought up to FAS' management by senior players following the team's exit from the Suzuki Cup at the hands of arch-rivals Malaysia on Nov 29, were squad selection and match tactics.
When informed of FAS' announcement, one member of the Lions' Suzuki Cup squad told TNP: "We already heard a while back that the coach would get his contract extended till after the SEA Games, so we're not really surprised by the news.
"Everyone should take it in the right way. It's a chance for him to prove himself and, as players, we also want to show everyone we can do better."
When asked about whether a potential divide between Stange and some members of the squad could prove detrimental, the player said: "About the issues that may be there... I think the key is to be professional enough to take whatever has happened, and try to move on.
"Maybe it will affect the selection of some players. But, from a player's standpoint, the best thing to do is just give our all if we are picked, just like we did in the Suzuki Cup."
One fan TNP spoke to said keeping Stange was the right decision.
"It would have been rash to sack him after just one major tournament in charge," said Roy Tan, a 24-year-old undergraduate.
"After all, the SEA Games and Asian Games teams were led by Aide Iskandar.
"Personally, I feel the team showed signs at the Suzuki Cup that they could play the type of attractive football Stange wants, and we should give him a bit more time."
Begins tenure as Lions coach with two friendly victories over Myanmar (2-0) and Laos (5-2).
Thrashed 6-1 by China in a friendly in Tianjin.
Leads Lions to a sensational 2-1 home victory over Syria in an Asian Cup qualifier.
NOV 2013 TO MARCH 2014
Lions lose final three Asian Cup qualifier group games - 4-0 to Syria, 3-1 to Jordan, 3-1 to Oman.
Withdraws as coach of Incheon Asian Games squad due to illness. Singapore fare well in South Korea under interim coach Aide Iskandar (1 win, 1 draw, 1 loss).
Lions lose 2-1 to Hong Kong 2-1 and draw 2-2 with Macau (ranked world No. 186 at the time).
Singapore fall 12 spots to 161st in the Fifa world rankings.
Defending champions Singapore crash out of AFF Suzuki Cup group stage on home soil, after losing 2-1 to Malaysia in final game.
8 wins, 2 draws, 10 losses