With the wisdom of installing the German questioned after he admitted to being unfamiliar with the country in an interview with DFB-TV, Deepanraj Ganesan looks at possible candidates who are no strangers to the Singapore scene that could take over the Singapore reins.
Scroll through your social media timeline or flip open the newspapers, and the realisation that Singapore national team coach Bernd Stange is living on borrowed time strikes fast. A miserable AFF Suzuki Cup exit at the hands of causeway rivals Malaysia has swung the opinions of netizens and even former national players firmly against his tenure.
Ultimately, if the 66-year-old were to be shown the door after the debacle, who should be given the task of rebuilding the team?
The reigning S.League coach of the year, Marko Kraljević has enjoyed a stellar 2014 campaign with Balestier Khalsa. Named as the man to replace Darren Stewart at the start of the season, not much was expected from the rookie coach initially. But he answered his critics in stunning fashion, helping the Tigers clinch their first ever RHB Singapore Cup. They were no pushovers in the league as well, carving victories over more illustrious opponents such as Home United and Warriors FC.
He started his coaching career with Jurong's Centre of Excellence (COE) before moving on to the COE of Paya Lebar Punggol and Balestier. The Prime League posts of Balestier and Woodlands followed, before he eventually landed himself the big job with the Tigers’ senior team.
The 49-year-old had first arrived on the local scene as a player in 1996, and is no stranger to the myriad of challenges Singapore football faces. Marko’s strength lies in his effectiveness at producing results despite working with limited means, with his sides often overachieving. His first seasons in charge corresponded with the rise to prominence of several local players such as Zaiful Nizam, Syed Thaha, Poh Yi Feng and Zulkiffli Hassim.
But is just one successful season in the top level - which admittedly yielded the Singapore Cup trophy - enough to justify the step up as national team head coach? The man himself thinks so. After the Singapore Cup final win, Marko said: "You think he [national football coach Bernd Stange] is better? I don't think so.”
With cries from local football observers that not enough players from the S.League were selected for the Suzuki Cup, appointing a coach familiar with the talent pool could help mitigate the problem. Should Marko be given a chance to show that he really is better than Stange?