Football: Selvaraj to replace Hesse as Young Lions coach

Garena Young Lions coach Patrick Hesse will pursue other opportunities after leaving the S-League side midway through his two-year deal.
Garena Young Lions coach Patrick Hesse will pursue other opportunities after leaving the S-League side midway through his two-year deal. TNP FILE PHOTO

Patrick Hesse, coach of national developmental and S-League side Garena Young Lions, has resigned from his post, halfway into his two-year deal.

The Young Lions, essentially the national Under-21 team, finished bottom of the recently concluded nine-team S-League with nine points from 24 games. They won twice, drew thrice and lost their remaining matches.

In an e-mail statement, a Football Association of Singapore (FAS) spokesman confirmed Hesse's resignation and said the Frenchman would be replaced by current assistant coach V. Selvaraj on the recommendation of the FAS' technical director Michel Sablon.

The spokesman added: "(Selvaraj) will be supported and advised by Richard Tardy, who will play a more active role in the Garena Young Lions set-up in 2017 with next August's SEA Games in mind."

Tardy, the national youth teams head coach, had earlier been tasked with leading Singapore at the Games in Kuala Lumpur.

He thanked his fellow Frenchman and said Hesse was partially responsible for the U-21s' good results, including a 5-0 win over Hong Kong in July.

It is believed Hesse opted to step down as there was talk that he would be redeployed.

In the same statement, Hesse said: "The spirit (the players) show every day in training is something I truly appreciate, so it is with a heavy heart that I am leaving to pursue other opportunities."

Results under the 59-year-old were hardly satisfactory.

The team were hit with a $50,000 subsidy deduction for finishing bottom and failing to bag at least 20 per cent of the total points on offer. They needed 15 points to stave off the sanction but were six points off the mark.

This, despite being able to call on the services of national striker Khairul Amri, 31, and former Tampines Rovers midfielder Firdaus Kasman, 28.

The arrival of French goalkeeper Benjamin Bertrand, who has experience playing in France's Ligue 2, also did little to address the team's sloppiness in defence. Bertrand, 24, left midway through the season.

Christopher van Huizen, who has four international caps and joined the Young Lions from Tampines midway through the campaign, called Hesse a fair coach.

The winger, 23, said: "He is someone who believes in giving youngsters a chance to prove themselves.

"I was one of the more senior players in the team but he was not afraid to put me on the bench. It's a pity we didn't get the results we wanted but the team will miss him."

However, he noted that the move had a silver lining, noting: "Coach Tardy will have more time to bond with the team ahead of the SEA Games, and that can only be good."

Chua Siang Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Selvaraj to replace Hesse as Young Lions coach'. Subscribe