Football: Bernd Stange confirms that he's stepping down as Lions coach

Singapore football coach Bernd Stange has confirmed his tenure with the national team will end after the match against Afghanistan.
Singapore football coach Bernd Stange has confirmed his tenure with the national team will end after the match against Afghanistan.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - After almost a week of speculation, Bernd Stange's stint as head coach of the Singapore national football team will come to an end next month as the German confirmed his departure on Wednesday (March 23).

Speaking at a pre-match press conference in Amara Hotel, he said: "As you know now I asked the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) in January not to plan with me after the Afghanistan match.

"How the players reacted, very professional, it shows... that they are extremely focused on their performance and this makes me proud even if I'm on the way out."

While he has so far put up a dispassionate front since news of his imminent exit broke, Stange sounded defensive before his penultimate game in charge against Myanmar on Thursday. His tenure will end with a World Cup qualifier against Afghanistan on March 29.

Asked if he owes local fans a positive performance against Myanmar at the Jalan Besar Stadium, Stange said: "We have 10 points in World Cup qualifying and we want to be judged on our results.

"I won't allow anybody to be too negative about our performance. Results are crucial, world rankings are crucial... But don't forget we have a local team with no foreign players.

"We want to have two good performances, our goal is absolutely clear, try to win both matches and then we will see."

Singapore are poised to finish third in their World Cup qualifying group, which will secure passage to the third qualifying round of the 2019 Asian Cup.

Against Myanmar, Stange will be up against fellow countryman Gerd Zeise, who guided the White Angels to the Fifa Under-20 World Cup last year.

Zeise, who congratulated Stange on Singapore's results in the World Cup qualifiers, said the home side are the favourites. Singapore are ranked world No. 148 on the Fifa rankings, ahead of their world No. 154 opponents.

In 37 meetings, the Lions narrowly edge the head-to-head record 15-14. The teams drew eight times.

Zeise said: "They are good, organised, with some fantastic players inside. For us it's an important test."