Sundram's target: Reach Suzuki Cup semis
Tampines coach to be offered one-year deal to lead Lions, with year-end Suzuki Cup a priority
Singapore opened its doors to the South-east Asia football community in 2014 for the AFF Suzuki Cup here at the new National Stadium, the centrepiece of the Sports Hub.
Hosting the tournament at the Republic's state-of-the-art 55,000-capacity National Stadium, the Lions, the defending champions - and the most successful regional side then with four titles - were expected to excel.
Instead, Bernd Stange's charges ended the tournament early with egg on their faces and tails between their legs as they were booted out at the group stage in front of their own fans - in their brand-new den no less.
With V Sundramoorthy poised to take over the reins of the national team after Stange's departure in March, the aim is for the Lions to restore pride.
The Tampines Rovers coach has yet to put pen to paper on what sources have told The New Paper is a one-year deal, with a semi-final place at the year-end Suzuki Cup his main target.
The deal is expected to be signed in the next few days, with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) possibly unveiling Sundram as the Lions' new coach at its Jalan Besar headquarters as early as this Friday.
The football fraternity believes the Suzuki Cup target is achievable, with the 50-year-old well equipped for it.
"To be fair, the semi-finals is not a huge ask - to ask Sundram to win it would be unreasonable, but this is not," said former Singapore international R Sasikumar.
"He is a good coach who already understands the climate here, knows the players, and that is really what he brings to the table."
"I'm happy to see him get his chance, I think it's long overdue. He's done more with lesser teams," added Sasi.
Sasi pointed to Sundram's tenure as LionsXII coach in their first two years in the Malaysian Super League, when he led the team to second spot in 2012, then winning the title the following year with a side largely comprising national Under-23 players.
While he believes the target may be a little unfair, considering this year's Suzuki Cup - to be co-hosted by the Philippines and Myanmar - is just some six months away, Steven Tan, also a former Singapore international, agreed with Sasi that Sundram has what it takes to achieve the semi-final target.
He called on the FAS to back the coach to the hilt, like they did with Stange.
"Sundram needs to have free rein to choose the players that he needs to do the job, and the FAS must support him in whatever he wants in terms of preparation," said Tan.
"Don't forget, Stange was allowed to take the team on training tours to Turkey and Austria."
"It is a little too short I think, to get a national team to play exactly how a coach wants them to, but Sundram is familiar with the players and how things work here, so yes, it is an achievable target," added Tan, who was also Tampines Rovers coach.
Both insist that Sundram must be rewarded with a contract extension should the Lions make the last four of the region's biggest football competition.
"Coaches are in the results business and, if Sundram does lead the team into the (Suzuki Cup) semis, he should get a contract extension," said Sasi.
"That's how it works with any employees who hit their KPIs (key performance indicators) and it's only fair that Sundram is similarly rewarded - if he does meet his target, and I think he can."