|By Khalis Rifhan & Bhas Kunju
With the clock ticking down to decision-day for Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to appoint the nations’ next national coach, sources close to Goal.com have revealed that a former S.League player, Dragan Talajic might be in contention to take over the rein from Serbian Radojko Avramovic.
Apart from Talajic, another possible candidate for the job is current East Timor coach, Emerson Alcantara, who had previously managed Brazilian state club Esporte Club de Novembro in the Sao Paoulo regional league and was appointed as East Timor head coach in 2012.He led Timor in the 2012 AFF Championship Qualifiers but lost out for the tournament proper after losing their last match to Brunei. Close friends of the coach revealed to Goal.com that the coach had privately made known his interest to coach the Singapore national team following the recently concluded AFF Championship hosted by Thailand and Malaysia.
While Emerson might not be a frontrunner for the top post, Talajic is a serious contender given his impressive record with Middle East clubs, a similar resume that Avramovic boasted before his hire as Singapore coach.
The Croatian played in Singapore towards the end of his career, signing for Tanjong Pagar United in 1997 before hanging up his boots four years later.
After his retirement, Talajic went into coaching and won the AFC Champions League in his first match in charge of Saudi Arabian club Al Ittihad in 2004, having replaced fellow Croatian Tomislav Ivic who was sacked by the club after losing the first leg tie of the final.
Al Ittihad had lost the first leg 3-1 to South Korean club Seongnam Illhwa but Talajic led the team to an astounding 5-0 win in the second leg to lift the trophy.
Since then, Talajic has managed seven clubs in the Middle East region where there is a high turnover rate for coaches. He moved to Bahrain club Riffa Sports Club and East Riffa Club before finding himself in Saudi again, followed by stays in Jordan, Kuwait and UAE.
His greatest achievement is probably leading Jordanian side Al-Wahdat to four trophies in a season, winning the Shield Cup, Super Cup, League Cup and emerging as the league champions.
Talajic is currently unattached after being dismissed by Kuwaiti club Ittihad Kalba towards the end of 2012.
While the search is on for Raddy’s replacement, FAS president Zainudin Nordin had recently indicated that ‘while the association hope to finalise the appointment soon, we will not rush into making any decision as they are determined to appoint the right person for the job.’