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End of #TheBerndStangeShow

One would recall how Bernd Stange - the former Belarus, Iraq, and East Germany national coach was affable and approachable when he first took over as Singapore national team head coach back in 2013 from Serbian Raddy Avramovic for not refusing any "selfie" or photo request from anybody.

Such a demeanor would perceive he was then ready to adapt and assimilate into the far-from-desirable footballing infrastructure offered by the island republic when he mentioned he would make do with it when shown the rustic, run-down Geylang Field facilities stated he had seen worse cases in Iraq.

"This is not 'Bernd Stange' Football" - the first words I heard from him personally
The first words I heard from him personally

Soon after this, he declared his intention to see the four-time Asean champions play the "pass-and-move" game which he insisted it's how football is being played by many top sides in the world and quashed any thought that it was “Bernd Stange Football” when this blogger first met him in person months after he took the hot seat.

Despite the difficulties that waiting for him soon after he took over the reins, Coach Stange painstakingly tried to keep the morale high by constantly insisting things were on the path and controversially put a premature end to the international careers of several established names like Daniel Bennett, Shi Jiayi, Fahrudin Mustafic, etc. stated that his team will be focusing on younger players as the base of the Lions in years to come.

Never short of telling us that young players are the future was a constant reminder by Bernd Stange
Never short of telling us that young players are the future

Such confidence was shown by the man when he declared the players of the Singapore Selection he had chosen that faced Italian giants Juventus in the first-ever match played at the new National Stadium as the “future of Singapore football”.

Unfortunately, not many were convinced or shared that same confidence when there wasn't much to cheer about whenever the Lions took onto the field in recent years and saw the Republic ding-dong around the FIFA ranking of between 140s to 150s, in spite of those astronomical figures spent on programs like the “mass-mobilization” that saw the unprecedented combination of both Lions and Cubs touring Austria for the tuning up for both AFF Suzuki Cup or the SEA Games.

Thus, it wasn't a surprise to see many calling for the resignation of Coach Stange after the humiliating defeat by Malaysia in the Suzuki Cup that knocked the Lions out of the tournament they tried to defend as reigning champions on home turf.

Some pointed out the lack of quality sparring opponents, which he promised to bring at the start of his reign, for the team is one of the stagnancies not allowing Singapore football to break out of the Asean level.

Bernd Stange claimed he was misquoted on the remark that no team want to play in National Stadium because of artificial surface
On the controversial remarks on the National Stadium

"No top teams want to play on artificial surface (of National Stadium)," lamented Coach Stange in response to that during the pre-match press conference of the friendly against Guam.

Such a response immediately drew a strong rebuttal from SportsHub, the operators of the 55,000-seater stadium, and had the German claimed he was misquoted in the earlier session after the came-from-behind draw against the Pacific Islanders.

Save for the gratification of that 0-0 draw against the mighty Japanese in the ongoing Asian Cup qualifiers, there are not many positivities to talk about for the rest of Coach Stange's tenure which also saw the acrimonious public spat between him and former Courts Young Lions coach Aide Iskandar following the disastrous SEA Games campaign last year.

Bernd Stange had a stormy relationship with local media during his time as Singapore national coach
One of the fiery exchanges with the media

As his days are numbered at Jalan Besar Stadium, the 68-year-old eventually admitted he “might have underestimated the challenges facing Singapore football” in a recent interview.

Fair to say both Stange and his predecessor Avramovic were let down by an inadequate youth development system that failed to churn out players for the national team given the lack of pluralism in the existing framework? Up to the individual to decide on that.

However, it doesn't matter who is the next Singapore National coach, be it a local or a foreigner again, what is essential to have someone who can fit into the current system seamlessly to work alongside FAS Technical Director Michel Sablon to revamp and kick-start the conveyor belt for producing players for the Lions.

Bernd Stange failed to see Singapore played the way he preached
Must be one of his biggest regrets

For the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), it's also important to lay things clear on the table to whoever is going to replace Coach Stange as the next Singapore national football team coach the genuine circumstances facing the local game, in order to avoid the same “underestimation” admitted by the former Perth Glory coach mentioned earlier.

The next man at the helm must avoid making any bold statement we are accustomed to for the past three years, and stay firm on the ground.

Meanwhile, the rest of the stakeholders must be patient and realistic about the current doldrums we are in.

The win-loss record of Bernd Stange during his time as Singapore National Football Team Head Coach
Coach Stange's stats for the Lions

After all, like many said Alex Ferguson revived the famed Manchester United youth academy to build on and enjoyed those successful years in the later stages. Likewise, Singapore football must have the same mindset and patience to see us harvest the crops in years to come.

With the result in Tehran that saw Singapore losing 2-1 to Afghanistan, it's time to see the Saxony native pencil another name on his CV and also signalled the end of "The Bernd Stange Show" by this blog as well.


  1. Totally agree.. we must trust Michel Sablon and his team.
    At this period.. the forcus should be totally in youth development and the next NT head coach should be in the same frequency with sablon

  2. I really had expected a lot from his leadership.

    Unfortunately, I believe, the fundamental infrastructure, red tapes and bureaucracy simply just too difficult for anyone to do what they want to do.

    (even Raddy didnt had a easy ride then; he was just doing what he can given the limitations - by treating the NT as a club, thru young lions)

  3. Right from the moment Bernd Stange is appointed, his success or failure had always been dependent on how much power and flexibility FAS is going to provide for him.

    I had great hopes and expectations for him, because of how he was appointed - an exhaustive and seemingly "professional" search by the FAS. Thus I expected that, for the FAS to do it the right way to headhunt him, to give him the top dollars - I expected FAS to have given him all the support and powers he need to reform the NT the way he see fit.

    Unfortunately, it doesnt seemed to be the case. The SEA Games saga had shown that he was playing 2nd fiddle to the SEA Games squad managed by Aide Iskandar. He was very much influenced and bound by the FAS' preference to the NFA production line - from how much of the LionsXII players are selected - even Young Lions players. Seriously chosen by Bernd himself? Young Lions players over established powerhouses' players?

    Raddy may have won awards prior for Singapore - but that is because Raddy play it pragmatically; work within all the ridiculous red tape, and build the NT as if its a club team - selecting primarily players from Young Lions; and then the LionsXII - the squad members hardly change much over the years under Raddy. Off form players continues to be selected, just like how a Club side cannot afford to displace a senior player in the squad.

    Bernd expected to run a National Team, paid to run a National team, but forced upon him red tapes that just made things impossible to run it the way he wanted, in my opinion.


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