National coach is his dream job

Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah presenting coach V. Sundramoorthy with a lifetime achievement award from the local Sikh community for his contributions to Singapore football. With them are Gurdip Singh Usma (left), vice-
Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah presenting coach V. Sundramoorthy with a lifetime achievement award from the local Sikh community for his contributions to Singapore football. With them are Gurdip Singh Usma (left), vice-president of the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board, and board president Gurcharan Singh.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Sundram committed to Tampines but aims to take hot seat at least once in his career

In the past month, Singaporeans saw V. Sundramoorthy demonstrate his repertoire of tactics and the man whom fans call the Dazzler hopes to be a future national coach.

Be it as an assistant coach organising the national team's defence in the 0-0 World Cup qualifying draw against mighty Japan or guiding the Singapore Selection side's slick pass-and-move game during the Barclays Asia Trophy, he has proven to be a contender for the top coaching job in local football.

While Sundram, who coaches S-League side Tampines Rovers after two years at the LionsXII, is coy on whether he wants to succeed Lions coach Bernd Stange when the German's contract expires in September, he wants to occupy the hot seat at least once in the future.

"It's always a dream to coach the national team," the 49-year old said yesterday. "If you are a Singaporean or a coach, what you look forward to in your working career is to coach the national team.

"My focus is with Tampines, but I really enjoyed myself at the Barclays Asia Trophy. It was a good experience for me, but the future is difficult to comment on."

Sundram was speaking on the sidelines of a football tournament at St Wilfrid Sports Complex organised by the Central Sikh Gurdwara to commemorate the 159th death anniversary of soldier saint Bhai Maharaj Singh.

The event was attended by Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah and MP Inderjit Singh.

Past and present footballers like Terry Pathmanathan, S. Subramani, Rajinder Singh Gill and Delwinder Singh were also present as Sundram was honoured by the local Sikh community with a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to Singapore football.

Despite being tight-lipped on whether he wants to succeed Stange, former national forward Sundram has the support from his fellow players.

Ex-Lions skipper Pathmanathan praised his former team-mate for what he did in the Barclays Asia Trophy.

He said: "He (Sundram) wasn't given much time for the Barclays tournament and yet he did very well, he made his team play positive football that was admirable."

Hougang United defender Delwinder, who played for Sundram when he was the national Under-23 coach two years ago, is equally supportive, saying: "He definitely has what it takes to be the next national coach. Sundram is a detailed tactician who knows what he wants on the pitch. Off the field, he is very approachable. If you have any problem, you can talk to him."

In 2013, Sundram was hailed for leading a young and inexperienced LionsXII side to the Malaysia Super League title through the astute use of set pieces and incisive counter-attacks.

And at the Barclays Asia Trophy, English Premier League managers Arsene Wenger and Mark Hughes took note of his work as the Singapore Selection side lost to Arsenal (0-4) and Stoke City (0-2) with all guns blazing.

With Stange's future in doubt, Pathmanathan hopes to see a local face as the next Lion tamer with Sundram and Fandi Ahmad, who teamed up to orchestrate the defence in the valiant draw against Japan, the two prime candidates.

Pathmanathan said: "If you look at our local coaches, Sundram and Fandi have proven themselves well and are just waiting for the right opportunity to come their way."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2015, with the headline 'National coach is his dream job'. Print Edition | Subscribe