Fandi could have become a better coach if he stayed with FAS, says Leonard Thomas
Bernd Stange's tenure as Singapore football coach ends next month and The New Paper recently reported that the German will not be seeking a renewal of his contract.
Now, it looks as if assistant coach Fandi Ahmad will also part ways with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), and the final 2018 World Cup/2019 Asian Cup qualifier against Afghanistan on March 29 in Teheran will be their last match.
One of the country's greatest footballers, it will be sad to see Fandi leave the national football body, but after he turned down the opportunity to coach the next generation of Singapore internationals when he rejected the FAS offer to take on the Garena Young Lions in the S.League, there was little room for manoeuvre .
His supporters will argue that Fandi should take the reins of the national team, but I believe neither he nor V Sundramoorthy, is the finished article, ready to take over as ringmaster of the Lions.
Stange's successor must be a foreign coach of clout and confidence, someone who is tactically talented, preaches discipline and physical fitness and is unafraid to work in the unique Singapore environment.
In recent years, whenever talk of a possible new appointment for national coach has come up, backers of Fandi and Sundram have rallied for their respective favourite to get the nod.
Both groups made the call the moment Radojko Avramovic signalled his intention to stand down in late 2012 and were disappointed when Stange was hired.
Stange's Lions were supposed to roam with menace and roar at their new home, and woo the fans back to the new National Stadium at the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Instead, they flopped at the magnificent 55,000-capacity football arena at the Sports Hub, dumped out in the opening group stage in an embarrassing defence of their Asean title.
In the immediate aftermath, the calls for Stange's head were loud, the names Fandi and Sundram were once again touted in some quarters to take over the national team.
They argued that after Denmark's Jan Poulsen, Avramovic of Serbia and German Stange, a local had to be given the chance and either of the football heroes was a natural fit.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) resisted the call, backed Stange and while the 68-year-old hasn't turned the Singapore football team into any sort of continental force, the Lions have enjoyed some success in the 2018 World Cup/2019 Asian Cup joint-qualifiers.
A NEW ROLE
Kicked out of the Malaysian Super League after the 2015 season, the LionsXII were no more and Fandi, the team's coach, needed a new role.
It looked as if the FAS had worked out a good role for Fandi to groom Singapore's Under-21 footballers, especially with his ability to inspire youngsters and make them enjoy football.
If he was worried that the young team were not going to win many matches, I'm sure he would have been told that it was not the goal.
With world-renowned Michel Sablon, the FAS technical director from Belgium, and national youth teams head coach, Frenchman Richard Tardy, both on board with the decision, the 53-year-old would have had the support and guidance of top quality football minds.
While he has enjoyed title success as a coach in the S.League (with then SAFFC, now Warriors FC) and led the LionsXII to Malaysian FA Cup success last year, Fandi could have become even better.
Perhaps then, he would have been ready to be coach of the Lions.
Right now, it just seems like this is a wasted opportunity.