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The veteran striker says he respects new coach Bernd Stange's focus on youth but admitted surprise at the omission of club-mate Mustafic Fahrudin from the latest team

When new national team coach Bernd Stange was unveiled earlier in the year, former Singapore international Aleksandar Duric had indicated his interest to come out of retirement and pull on a Lions jersey again.

But the 43-year-old Tampines Rovers forward has since decided to leave the situation as it is following an exchange with the former Belarus and Iraq coach.

“We had a chat and he is a coach that wants to focus on the younger generation and I respect that,”  said Duric to Goal Singapore.

“I had a really good time in the national team and my time is done in there.”

Duric is more concerned though about the omission of two of his Stags teammates in the latest national team, although he points out there will be other opportunities in future for them to be recalled.

“I am more disappointed that some of my teammates did not get the call-up, like Fara [Mustafic Fahrudin] and Shahdan [Sulaiman]," he said.

“Not because we are very close friends, but [because] he was one of the best players for us in the Suzuki Cup and I think he and Isa [Halim] hold the midfield well.”

With certain quarters already questioning Stange’s selection, Duric feel that such criticism is unavoidable whenever a national team squad is announced. 

“It will always be a hot topic and there will also be some kind of controversy as to why this player or that player is not chosen," he said.

"But it’s all up to the national coach as he is sitting in the hot seat. He knows the players and will pick those he believe can perform in the game.

“Next month is a big game against Oman and they have to win this if they want to progress.”

Singapore will host the Middle East side on August 14 in an Asian Cup qualifier at the Jalan Besar Stadium before welcoming Syria a month later at the same venue.

The Lions started their campaign with a 4-0 defeat to Jordan in February with LionsXII gaffer V. Sundramoorthy at the helm as interim coach.

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