Singapore football legend Fandi Ahmad has been tasked with leading the Young Lions out at next year's Asian Games and the 2019 SEA Games after the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced yesterday that Richard Tardy will be released early from his contract.
Tardy, the FAS head coach of national youth teams and this year's SEA Games coach, is the biggest name to exit in a coaching clear-out.
Also set to go are Under-18 staff coach Christophe Chaintreuil, U-15 staff coach Sofiyan Hamid and head of the FAS' Goalkeeper Academy Singapore Frederic de Boever.
A senior official, Kok Wai Leong, the S-League's director of operations, will leave the FAS after six years.
Tardy will exit on March 31 next year "as a result of a strategic shift in the delivery of the FAS' youth development plans and for the preparations of the 2019 SEA Games", said the FAS in a statement.
Fandi has been focusing on the development of players aged 19 to 23 as FAS head coach (youth). But with immediate effect, he will take over Tardy's responsibilities, including the development of players aged 13 to 18. In addition, the 55-year-old will helm the Young Lions in the new S-League season and will be assisted by another former national captain, Nazri Nasir.
FINDING THE NEXT GENERATION
I have always enjoyed working with youth and I hope we can achieve better results from now on... It will be a crucial year ahead of us and my aim is to groom the next generation of national players.
'' FANDI AHMAD, putting the immediate challenge in perspective.
Fandi told The Straits Times (ST): "I have always enjoyed working with youth and I hope we can achieve better results from now on.
"The new rule that means all senior local S-League clubs have to sign six Under-23 players will hopefully increase our talent pool and we will scout all who are eligible for the upcoming major international competitions.
"It will be a crucial year ahead of us and my aim is to groom the next generation of national players."
Tardy's Under-22 side were booted out at the group stage of a dismal SEA Games campaign in Kuala Lumpur in August.
The Frenchman, whose deal was set to run until December 2018, also mentored coaches and sources told ST that former national coach Vincent Subramaniam, who led the Young Lions in the recently concluded S-League, could take over those duties.
The winds of change have been swirling above the FAS' Jalan Besar headquarters for some time, and are now sweeping through its corridors.
Yesterday, the FAS also announced the departure of Kok and that the contracts of Chaintreuil and Sofiyan would not be renewed after they expire at the end of this month.
ST understands that de Boever, who joined in January last year, will also be leaving at the end of his contract, with the 36-year-old breaking the news to parents of trainees in a WhatsApp message last weekend.
V. Sundram Moorthy 's Lions are not the only national team to have endured a poor 2017. The junior teams have not distinguished themselves, with the U-19 and U-15 sides crashing out in the group stages of their respective Asian age-group championship qualifiers. The latter side even suffered the ignominy of a 12-0 loss to their Indonesian counterparts in a warm-up fixture.
And sources revealed that the clear-out at Jalan Besar is not over, with at least one other staff member at risk of getting the axe.
"The coaching scene in the FAS needs a revamp. There have been poor results for so many years now, so I agree that people have to go," said a local coach on condition of anonymity. "Our league is looking to focus on youth, so our youth coaches now become even more important. I hope that they bring in experienced local coaches who understand the football culture and problems that we face here."
Others are more concerned about the future, turning their attention to the replacements that the FAS will bring in.
"We have coaches like Richard Bok who has won four S-League titles, but is not in the system; neither is Steven Tan (former Tampines Rovers coach)," said another local coach who declined to be named.
"Experienced coaches like these need to come back into the system, and help our football now."
The exits come after the association's deputy directors Adrian Chan, who headed the competitions department, and Jason Lee (corporate affairs and strategic development) left the organisation earlier this year.
National team manager Farehan Hussein left last month while FAS general secretary Winston Lee is set to leave at the end of this month.