|FROM JALAN BESAR STADIUM
By Khalis Rifhan
After much speculation in recent months, Bernd Stange has finally been unveiled as the new coach of the Singapore national team.
The German's appointment on a two-year contract was revealed at a press conference held by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on Wednesday evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium. There is an option of a further two-year extension at the end of his term.
The 65-year-old last coached Belarus from 2007 to 2011 and led them to their highest-ever Fifa ranking of 55, before stepping down after the Uefa Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. Stange has also coached the old East Germany (1982-88), Oman (2001) and Iraq (2002-04) national teams, in addition to seven clubs.
Stange takes over from Radojko Avramovic (Raddy), who was at the helm since 2003 and oversaw Singapore's most successful period in a near decade-long career. The Lions lifted the AFF Championships on three occasions (2004, 2007 and 2012), and made headway in Asian Cup and World Cup qualifiers.
After Raddy’s departure following the AFF Championship last December, LionsXII coach V. Sundramoorthy was appointed as interim coach in February and the former Singapore international tasted two defeats - a 3-1 loss to Bahrain in a friendly and a 4-0 crushing by Jordan in the 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers.
While a Singapore Selection will be up against La Liga giants Atletico Madrid at the end of the month, Stange will be on the bench as FAS have once again appointed Sundram as head coach for the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Charity Cup match.
Stange will immediately be tasked to build a squad that is capable of going further than what his Serbian predecessor has achieved, and get the team back on track in the upcoming Asian Cup qualifiers.
But before the Lions take on Oman in the qualifiers on August 14, they will face Malaysia twice in June as part of the annual Causeway Challenge.
Stange will help mentor LionsXII coach V. Sundramoorthy, who has also been appointed to take charge of the Singapore Under-23 squad for the SEA Games later this year, as well as Sundram's assistant Aide Iskandar.