Team Singapore

Stange's contract extended to April

National football coach Bernd Stange has got his wish of seeing out the ongoing World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers.

In a statement last night, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced that the 67-year-old German's contract will be extended to April 15 next year, after his two-year deal expires this month.

This would allow Stange (left) to plot an unprecedented Asian Cup qualification.

To do so, the Lions have to finish top of their World Cup qualifying group or as one of the top four runners-up from the eight groups. Otherwise, they will move on to another round of qualifiers.

Singapore are third in Group E behind Syria and Japan with four points, after three away games that saw them beat Cambodia 4-0, shock Japan 0-0 and lose 1-0 to Syria.

With five games to go, they next take on Afghanistan (Oct 8) and Cambodia (Oct 13) at the National Stadium.

"I have always emphasised my desire to remain and lead the national team through the World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers," said Stange, who revealed his intentions to stay in an exclusive TNP interview earlier this month.

"It has been a positive qualifying campaign for us and our performances in the first three matches - all of which were played away - have given us confidence that we could qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup.

GUIDANCE

"In addition to further enhancing the qualities of our players, I will also continue to work closely with, and guide, my coaching colleagues Fandi Ahmad and V Sundramoorthy, who have demonstrated team work, respect, humility and a genuine desire to keep learning and raising their standards.

"I am grateful to have a strong backroom team where all members are united and share a common goal. 

"In addition to my duties on the field, I am also actively involved in the ongoing discussions relating to the new strategic plan. 

"I will use my experience - both technical and management-related - and contribute to the formulation of the new plans and programmes which will further enhance the standards of Singapore football."

Under Stange, who was appointed in May 2013, Singapore have played 30 A internationals, with a 12-4-14 win-draw-loss record. This compares favourably with his predecessor Radojko Avramovic, whose statistics are 44-31-55 in 130 matches.

However, it wasn't a smooth transition from Avramovic's pragmatic style that won three Asean titles.

Stange's preference for possession took some getting used to, as the Lions crashed out of last year's Suzuki Cup group stages as defending champions.

Among his best results was beating Syria at home in a 2015 Asian Cup qualifier two years ago.

FAS general secretary Winston Lee explained that the extension of Stange's contract was to "ensure continuity and leadership for the national team which have performed well in the ongoing World Cup/Asian Cup joint qualifying campaign".

Meanwhile, the FAS also announced that 56-year-old Juergen Raab's contract has been extended until the end of the year for him to continue coaching the Courts Young Lions.

- Report by DAVID LEE

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