New Lions tamer to be a foreigner
Interim national coach Fandi returns to taking charge of SEA Games team
The new coach of the national football team is set to be a foreigner, who could take his place as early as next month, said Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Lim Kia Tong.
The latest man in the hot seat will replace Fandi Ahmad, who served as interim national coach from May and took charge of the Lions at the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup last month.
He led the Lions to wins over Indonesia and Timor-Leste but failed to make it out of a tough Group B that also featured Thailand and Sven-Goran Eriksson's Philippines.
Speaking at the sidelines of a Suzuki Cup Appreciation Dinner at Copthorne King's Hotel last night, Lim said: "We have interviewed at least six (candidates) already... All of them are foreigners.
"The good thing is there is a mixture of Asian and European (names), some of whom were very involved in youth development in the Middle East.
"If there are any remaining (candidates), it's maybe two or three more... We hope everything will be finalised soon... maybe in January.
"These shortlisted coaches, most of them, have an inclination for youth development and this is how we are going to move (forward)."
The New Paper understands that one of candidates who applied for the Lions job is former Sunderland academy manager Ray Power.
However, Fandi - who won three and drew one of his friendly matches and ended the Suzuki Cup with two wins and two losses - is not in the running for the Lions job.
The FAS president said it was communicated to the 56-year-old before the Suzuki Cup that he would reprise his role as head coach of youth after the tournament to focus on next November's SEA Games in Manila.
Fandi confirmed this, telling The New Paper: "I'm just happy to be given the opportunity at the Suzuki Cup, after that, I knew I had to come back to (the SEA Games) team.
" I have a job to do at the SEA Games. We'll try to develop as many players (as we can)."
Lim stressed that Fandi did a good job during his six-month stint, but said it was too "stressful" for him to double up as both the coach of the senior national team and the Under-23 SEA Games side.
He said: "There is no dispute that Fandi has done a good job...
"He has the ability and has demonstrated that he can turn a team around to play entertaining, forward-moving football.
"I think it is a natural question (whether he should be national coach) but we are extremely mindful that MCCY (Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth), Sport Singapore and the whole of Singapore wants the football team to make a strong impact at the SEA Games.
"In other words, we have to go back to what we had discussed and agreed, that Fandi will now go back and develop, build and cement the team for the SEA Games.
"Hopefully, we can look at the gold medal. In order for him to do this, can he also double up as the national coach?
"We would be happy if he can do both but when we analyse the calendar, it is very stressful for a national coach to also hopefully bring the SEA Games team a gold medal...
"That is why we cannot put the whole burden on the shoulder of (one) person to handle two babies. One baby might be crying louder than the other, so he may have to pacify one baby."