Lions need a tamer, the sooner the better
Ex-Lions Sasikumar, Duric hope new national coach is appointed soon
With just six months to go to the AFF Suzuki Cup, Singapore need to appoint a national coach soon.
The coach's position has been vacant for three weeks following V. Sundram Moorthy's resignation after close to two years at the helm.
When contacted yesterday, the Football Association of Singapore said that there were no updates on the coaching situation.
Former international R. Sasikumar, who famously scored the "Shoulder Blade of God" goal to help Singapore beat Vietnam in the final of the 1998 Asean Football Championship, told The New Paper yesterday: "You get rid of a coach and you wait three weeks to appoint another one.
"By the time you do, it'll be almost a month. I really don't know what sort of planning this is because I think most of the coaches would have been at the draw."
He was referring to yesterday's AFF Suzuki Cup draw in Jakarta, which saw the Lions drawn in a tough group (See right and report below).
"I don't think we even sent a coach. It's not an ideal start to a tournament."
Almost to a man, past and present national players agreed that a national coach needs to be found soon.
National goalkeeper Hassan Sunny, who plays for Thai League 2 club Army United, hopes that the incoming coach is someone who can help the team gel well and rectify the problems they have faced over the last two years.
He said: "It's not impossible, we need to sort ourselves out first.
"I hope that with this new coach, we can have a different approach. I hope that the new coach can bring a new mindset to the team.
"We need to score more and concede fewer goals."
Former national striker Aleksandar Duric added: "If we can organise a team, we can play good football too. It would be ideal if we could find someone to take the national team as soon as possible.
"It would be good if we could find somebody who understands our football and who knows our players."
Sasikumar added: "Whoever comes on board needs to come up with a plan to see how he's going to prepare the team and that's going to be important.
"The lead-up is going to be key, so it really depends on who is in the hot seat."
Sundram, who was appointed national coach six months before the 2016 Suzuki Cup, had a baptism of fire.
It was a torrid spell for him as the Lions finished with only one point and one goal - their worst campaign since the competition's inauguration in 1996.
AFF SUZUKI CUP 2018
- Brunei or Timor Leste
- Nov 9: v Indonesia (home)
- Nov 13: v Philippines (away)
- Nov 21: v Timor Leste or Brunei (home)
- Nov 25: v Thailand (away)
* Home games at National Stadium
Hariss: Capitalise on home edge in Suzuki Cup group stage
The Singapore national team were yesterday drawn in a tough group for this year's AFF Suzuki Cup tournament, which kicks off in November.
The Lions found themselves in Group B with defending champions Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and a qualifier.
It is the same draw they had in the previous edition, with the only change being Brunei or Timor Leste, who will fight for the remaining spot in a qualifying round in September.
This year's revamped tournament will see teams play two home and two away games, a change from the previous format where the teams only played in host countries.
Singapore's home matches are against Indonesia and either Brunei or Timor Leste.
They will play away to Thailand and the Philippines.
But the change was welcomed by former and current players, who feel the new format could help to boost football in the region.
National captain Hariss Harun said: "This will be a tough fight, with Thailand and Indonesia in our group.
"We may not be favourites to win the Suzuki Cup but we need to capitalise on our home- ground advantage to get a good start in our campaign.
"We hope that the fans will come down to support us when we play at home.
"The away games will be tough but in football, anything can happen and I believe that we can achieve a good result in the tournament. We have big ambitions, but we've got to stay humble and work really hard because of the quality of the teams we will face."
Despite the team's poor showings and their unfavourable draw, former national striker Aleksandar Duric feels that not all hope is lost.
Duric, who was part of the Lions team that won the 2012 edition, told The New Paper: "We need more exposure for football in the region and this is the perfect opportunity to bring big crowds."
Former goalkeeper Lionel Lewis believes that going in as underdogs could work in the Lions' favour.
The 2004 AFF Championship's Most Valuable Player said: "The pressure is on the powerhouses to perform. There aren't a lot of expectations for us. If we play our games well, take our chances, you'll never know."