Tampines Rovers have parted ways with head coach Akbar Nawas, with just a month to go before the new S-League season kicks off.
The decision comes less than a year after he took over the reins last May from V. Sundramoorthy, after the latter was appointed caretaker coach of the national football team.
While the news coincided with the Stags' failure to qualify for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League on Wednesday, after a 2-0 play-off loss to Global FC, the tactician maintained that the split was amicable.
"I was certainly not asked to leave - it was mutually agreed (upon)," he told The Straits Times yesterday, noting that he had been open with the club since the end of last season about various opportunities that he had been pursuing.
"I won't deny that remuneration is a key factor as I have a young family and so it has been an important consideration for me.
"But I have always reassured the club that I will always be there to help them out, especially in their pre-season work."
A KEY CONSIDERATION
I won't deny that remuneration is a key factor as I have a young family.
AKBAR NAWAS, former Tampines Rovers coach, is looking for greener pastures after mutually parting ways with the S-League club.
It is understood players were told yesterday that Jurgen Raab, who formerly coached the Young Lions before returning to his native Germany at the end of 2015 when his contract expired, will take over the reins.
When contacted, Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra declined comment.
The five-time S-League champions, who finished runners-up last season, endured a tumultuous 2016.
The Stags finished the season with no silverware and there were cash flow troubles at the club. Former Arsenal and Liverpool player Jermaine Pennant, whose arrival a year ago had lifted the Stags and the local football scene, also left to join English League One side Bury.
Tampines were runners-up in the Singapore Cup and semi-finalists in the League Cup.
Expected to hit the reset button, the club have looked ready to start the new season with optimism, with the addition of foreign players like former Croatia Under-17 captain Ivan Dzoni, midfielder Ryutaro Megumi from Japan and utility player Son Yong Chan from South Korea.
Seasoned names like Singapore internationals Daniel Bennett, Madhu Mohana and Khairul Amri have also joined the ranks.
Added Akbar, who said he is finalising discussions on some coaching-related roles: "Tampines Rovers will always be close to my heart and I have told the club they can still count on me for any form of assistance.
"They appreciate that and we will be exploring ways for me to still have some involvement."