Football: Avramovic could return to FAS as an adviser

Raddy Avramovic, the Lions' most successful international coach, could return to Singapore football in the near future.
Raddy Avramovic, the Lions' most successful international coach, could return to Singapore football in the near future.PHOTO: TNP FILE

Raddy Avramovic, the Lions' most successful international coach, could return to Singapore football in the near future.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has held preliminary talks with the Serb on a possible advisory role.

"There has been some talks (with the FAS)," Avramovic told The Straits Times. "But at the moment, nothing concrete has been offered yet and nothing has been signed."

Avramovic, who turns 68 on Nov 29, is currently coaching Kuwaiti Premier League club Al Tadhamon on a short-term deal which expires next April.

He led the Lions from 2003-2012, winning three Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cups (2004, 2007 and 2012). Known for his tactical prowess that made the best of Singapore's strengths, he won the first two AFF Cups on unbeaten runs.

In 2009, the Lions beat Thailand 1-0 in an Asian Cup qualifier to earn their first victory on Thai soil in 35 years. Under his charge, a whole generation of players like Shahril Ishak, Hassan Sunny, Baihakki Khaizan and Khairul Amri from the FAS' youth system earned international honours.

Although he enjoyed success during his nine-year tenure, one particular failure kept gnawing at him. The Lions were in strong contention to qualify directly for the 2011 Asian Cup.

Avramovic said: "For sure, nobody's perfect. I always feel that we could have done better back then and qualify for at least one Asian Cup finals. That is the one thing that is missing from my time there."

He emphasised that he is not after the national team job and hopes to play a mentorship role instead.

"After winning the AFF Cup (in 2012), nine years (in charge of the Lions) is a long time and I wanted some time for myself," he explained. "When I left, I said maybe (to a return to Singapore football). But I don't want to return as the national coach. It's time for a change and I need a different challenge.

"There is too much focus on the negative things about (the state of) Singapore football. There are still good players around. What they need is good guidance."

Avramovic said he will always have a soft spot for the Republic.

He reminisced: "It was a special time for me. I am very proud of my ex-players and I am proud to say that during my time in charge, we never went out on the pitch saying 'let's try not to concede'. We went out there always trying to score goals and beat the opponents.

"There were some really good games. When the national team played in the Suzuki Cup, the fans came to watch and filled the stadiums. Singapore was a special part of my career."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2017, with the headline 'Avramovic could return to FAS as an adviser'. Print Edition | Subscribe