Zainudin hints at 'restrictions' for Sundram departure

Amidst many theories and discussion over Sundram's departure, the FAS President revealed in a televised interview that frequent squad disruptions played a part as well
V.Sundramoorthy's departure from LionsXII following a successful two-year stint left many fans wondering about the reasons behind the exit and questionining if the move could have been avoided.

While the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) have stated that a thorough application process will be undertaken to find the next coach, some questions still remained, including if there were other reasons behind the departure.

The former Singapore international was already reported to have accepted an offer from Negeri Sembilan as early as August, with FAS soon following suit with an announcement of a counter offer of a contract. Sundram publicly postponed his decision until the end of the Malaysia Cup campaign for the Lions, although it was no secret among those in the know that the departure had already been sealed much earlier.

In a recent interview with the The New Paper Sundram revealed that the enticement of a new challenge was a big draw and that coaching the Singapore National Team was his ultimate goal.

FAS President Zainudin Nordin, who has been in the news lately following a MediaCorp interview two weeks ago, made another televised appearance, this time on ChannelNewsAsia, where he spoke of Sundram's exit and reiterated that the coach was keen on pursuing a new challenge.

"Sundram has been a wonderful coach, we admire his tenacity, the work he has done, the success he has brought for us and the way he groomed our young players," said Zainudin in the interview.

"Nevertheless it is his decision. We've given him the best possible contract we could under our constraint. But he wanted a new challenge and I respect that.

"We respect him for his belief and we wish him all the best for the future and we want to ensure that there will be continuity after Sundram and we are preparing for that."

However when pressed on whether there were other deciding factors behind Sundram's exit, besides money and the pursuit of a new challenge, Zainudin revealed that the restrictions he had faced in squad selection had played a part as well.

"I think at the end of the day, the working environment that we have in FAS [is built on a] very strong bond and carmaderie and Sundram knows that," he said.

"Of course there will be constraints and challenges that we face with players not available, injuries, and sometimes the difficulties we may have."

In his two-year tenure with the LionsXII, one of Sundram's biggest bugbear had been the unavailability of players. A slim squad that was frequently decimated by injury lay-offs was further shorn of players due to National Service (NS) call-ups.

Players in NS who had used up their annual leaves to play for the LionsXII were often unable to find release from their active duties. Shakir Hamzah was most infamously found guilty of going AWOL from duties in June, after linking up with the LionsXII for an away game, and was handed a four-day sentence in the detention barracks.

Gabriel Quak, who played an important role for the LionsXII this season missed most of the 2012 campaign due to NS and was initially released from the team before being reinstated included at the start of 2013.

Zainudin added that Sundram continued to persevere despite the challenges and that a replacement for him will be found soon. He also commented that Singapore U23 team are unaffected by the change in coaches and that they know it's 'part and parcel that sometimes there are changes that take place', but stated that there was a need to move on.

Aide Iskandar has been announced to take over from Sundram as the Singapore U23 coach for the SEA Games in December while FAS have placed and ad to find the next LionsXII coach.