Steve Darby: I would have loved to coach Singapore with Aide Iskandar as my assistant

The former Home United coach shares his thoughts on the Singapore national team coaching post with Singapore
By Teng Kiat

Former Home United coach Steve Darby has declared that he would have "loved" to coach the Singapore national team, together with former Lions skipper Aide Iskandar as his assistant.

The Englishman, who had Aide under his wing during his spell at the Protectors from 2002 to 2005, praised the current Courts Young Lions coach in an email interview with Singapore.

"I believe Aide Iskandar has great leadership qualities and knows the game," Darby explained. "I would have loved to have the job with Aide as assistant and with an agreement that after two years, Aide would take over."

The 58-year-old also singled out Darren Stewart as another to have impressed him, saying that the current Balestier Khalsa coach has worked well with tight resources at the club.

"Darren Stewart has done a tremendous job with limited budgets and limited teams and has been in Singapore a long time, enough to be a Singaporean!" Darby pointed out.

"His work is greatly underrated, and he has the respect of the players."

The Englishman also rates V.Sundramoorthy, who took over as interim coach during the 5-0 loss to Jordan in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers last month, as an "excellent" coach who has "done a top job with the LionsXII" and believes that the former national stiker has received a great deal of undeserved criticism.

Darby went on to reveal that although he didn't apply for the vacant Singapore national team coaching post, he was interested in it.

"I didn't apply as the main reason was that when I saw the job [being] advertised, I had agreed a contract with a club in another country, and I always keep my word," he explained.

"Unfortunately, this contract fell through and I would have been able to apply, but I missed the deadline.

"But the reality is that if an employer wants you, they will let that be known. That is the right of the employer and whilst Singapore always goes by the book, they must have had in mind someone they want."

With fans debating whether Raddy Avramovic's successor should be a local or a foreigner, Darby firmly states that nationality is a "totally irrelevant" issue, although he thinks having prior knowledge of "Singapore and to a certain extent, Southeast Asian football" would be helpful.

"It should be the best coach for the job, irrespective of age or nationality," he asserted, adding that it all depended on what the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) was looking for.

"Do they want a hands-on coach who will avoid all the politics that goes with the job, or do they want a figurehead to lead and drive the game in a particular fashion? Also, of course budgets come into it.

"But if you bring a big-name foreigner in, is he going to understand the complexities of National Service (NS), or realise that there is only a tiny player pool with some of the elite players aging or retiring?"

The ex-Thailand assistant coach knows what comes with being part of a national team's set-up, and believes that Raddy has left big shoes to fill.

"Having worked for three years in Thailand with Peter Reid and Bryan Robson, you realise that the position is complex," Darby states.

"You have to deal with politics and the media, and the football is often the easiest aspect of the job.

"It won't be an easy job; Raddy did a great job and he will be [a] hard [act] to follow."