Sundram could be new national coach
FAS set to offer Tampines coach national team reins
The new Singapore football coach could be unveiled as early as next week.
For some weeks now, The New Paper reported that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) had narrowed the choice down to local icons Fandi Ahmad and V Sundramoorthy.
And TNP understands that Tampines Rovers coach Sundram is the first choice for the role.
The national football body is now deciding between an initial short-term contract, until the year-end AFF Suzuki Cup, co-hosted by Myanmar and the Philippines, or for a longer period.
In response to queries, an FAS spokesman would only say: "We are finalising the appointment and we expect to make an announcement within the next two weeks."
The Lions have been without a head coach since the departure of German Bernd Stange last month.
Stange was in charge for almost three years.
TNP had reported on April 24 that Fandi and Sundram had been tasked by the FAS to come up with a provisional 30-man national squad for an upcoming quadrangular tournament in Myanmar from June 3 to 5.
Sources told TNP that a panel comprising senior-level officials from the FAS and Sport Singapore then met Fandi and Sundram separately to discuss the job of leading the national team.
The initial aim was to appoint an experienced foreign coach to replace Stange, but the FAS shifted its stance after positive feedback from senior national players about the two local coaches.
One of Singapore's greatest strikers, Fandi, 53, is currently a staff coach with the FAS, having previously guided the LionsXII in Malaysia's domestic football competitions over two seasons (2014 and 2015).
He led them to a Malaysian FA Cup triumph, but the team were disbanded at the end of last year, after the Football Association of Malaysia decided not to extend the side's participation in their domestic tournaments.
Sundram, 50, was known as "The Dazzler" during his playing days and is regarded as one of Singapore's most skilful footballers.
He coached the LionsXII over two seasons (2012 and 2013), guiding them to the Malaysian Super League crown in his second year.
On Tuesday, he guided Tampines into the AFC Cup Round of 16, after a 1-0 win over Selangor at the National Stadium.
It was the first time a Singapore side had progressed to the knockout stages of the AFC Cup since 2012.
Despite Sundram's achievements with the Stags, Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra said he had no issues letting his coach leave to take the reins of the national team, should the FAS come calling.
"I would let Sundram go, but certainly with mixed feelings," Krishna told TNP.
"He is such an astute, hardworking and honest coach.
"It would be a loss but, at the same time, coaching the national team is the pinnacle of any self-respecting coach's success.
"So I would be very pleased for him if he secured it."
Krishna added that he has always had "the philosophy that any club should never be dependent on any one person", be it the chairman, a player or coach, and said the presence of assistant coach Akbar Abdul Nawas meant Tampines were "well covered" if Sundram leaves.
"Akbar is a great coach and I like the way he supports and complements Sundram. He has great player-management skills to complement his overall tactical know-how," added the Tampines chief.
"He understands the demands of the current S-League game and he could very well be our replacement coach.
"Akbar performed magic with our Prime League boys last season to emerge champions. It's a different task in managing an S.League squad, but let's see.
"I have not considered other options at this stage, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Sundram has not left us."
Sundram would make a great national coach as I have worked first hand with him and I know how honest and hardworking he is. Anyway, whether it is Sundram or Fandi, they will both receive my unreserved and fullest support in promoting the national football agenda. We need a local national coach at this juncture.
- Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra (above)