By Khalis Rifhan
Not many in South-East Asia knew who Radojko Avramovic, the former national coach of Kuwait, was prior to his appointment as the head coach of Singapore.
But the Serbian, more fondly known as 'Raddy', soon became an instant hit with local football fans as he hit the giddy heights of success by winning back-to-back AFF Championships in 2004 and 2007.
A new chapter in Singapore’s footballing history was then written in November 2008 as the Lions progressed to the third round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the first time, beating Lebanon twice in the process.
Two years later in March 2010, a loss to Jordan in their final match meant that Singapore missed out on qualification for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.
Although Singapore repeated their 2008 heroics by advancing to the third round of the 2012 World Cup qualifiers, the brickbats were out for the longest-serving Singapore coach ever as they lost all their matches and ended the campaign at the foot of Group A.
Speaking to Goal.com Singapore, former national skipper Aide Iskandar understood why the fans reacted in such a manner, but hopes that they can look at the bigger picture as well as the obstacles faced by the Serbian.
“Yes, the results were not good lately, maybe because of a few factors; for example, inadequate preparations and unavailability of players due to injuries," Aide pointed out.
"So I think maybe the fans did not see that but then again, I can understand from spectators' point of view.”
The ex-Home United captain also reminded supporters of the Serbian's successes, which he said should not be dismissed easily.
“When Raddy won two Suzuki Cups, the fans wanted more and when we went into the third round of the World Cup qualifiers, the fans expected him to do more," Aide said.
“Of course we can’t blame the fans but at [the] same time, we should not overlook past contributions from Raddy.”
Having captained the 2007 Suzuki Cup-winning squad, Aide experienced first-hand the type of training under the former Notts County goalkeeper.
“To me, Raddy is a very good coach, he has a lot of knowledge and already bridged the gap between us and teams from the Middle East," Aide asserted.
“In the past, when we played against them, we normally get hammered but because of his vast experience there, he has bridged that gap.”
Aide has been assisting Raddy since May, in preparations for the Lions' AFF Suzuki Cup campaign in November, where they have been drawn in Group B alongside hosts Malaysia, as well as Indonesia and Laos.
Mike Wong, the former Geylang United coach will be Raddy's assistant at the tournament proper as Aide is preparing Singapore Cubs for the inaugural NexLions Cup in December.