Singapore national coach Bernd Stange has been awarded a new seven month contract extension, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced overnight.
The German coach came under heavy criticism following Singapore's disappointing group stage exit from the AFF Suzuki Cup as defending champions last November, but has redeemed himself with the Lions' recent showings in World Cup qualifiers.
Singapore started their qualifying campaign with three away games on the trot, beating Cambodia 4-0 and holding Asian heavyweights Japan 0-0 in June before narrowly losing 1-0 to Syria in September.
Stange's new contract extension will see him remain in his post till April 15, 2016.
"As we continue to strive toward our aim of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup 2019, extending Bernd’s contract ensures continuity and leadership for the national team which has performed well in the ongoing FIFA World Cup/AFC Asian Cup joint qualifying campaign," FAS General Secretary Winston Lee said.
“The ExCo and Management remain confident in Bernd’s leadership and capabilities to further raise our standards and we will continue to support him and the national team fully as we prepare for the remaining five matches in the round two qualifying campaign for the FIFA World Cup 2018 and AFC Asian Cup 2019.
“We will review the performance of the national team after the conclusion of the qualifying campaign and will then make a further announcement.”
Lee also hailed Stange's positive impact on the national team throughout his tenure, as Singapore prepare to take on Afghanistan and Cambodia in World Cup qualifiers at the Singapore Sports Hub next month.
"Apart from his footballing philosophy and playing style, Bernd has identified and called up many young players to the national team during the past two years," he said.
"Today, the average age of our national team is 26 and the majority of these national players will likely represent Singapore in major competitions over the next few years.
"At the same time, we will continue to place strong emphasis on the development of our young and talented players.
"With the ongoing revamp of our youth development structure – which is spearheaded by technical director Michel Sablon, we will have an expanded pool of talented players for selection to represent the country in the near future."
Stange echoed Lee's sentiments, saying he had always intended to continue leading Singapore through the qualifiers and thanking the FAS for their faith in him.
"It has been a positive qualifying campaign for us and our performances in the first three matches – all of which were played away, have given us confidence that we could qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2019," the 67-year-old said.
"In addition to further enhancing the qualities of our players, I will also continue to work closely with, and guide, my coaching colleagues Fandi Ahmad and V. Sundramoorthy – who have demonstrated team work, respect, humility and a genuine desire to keep learning and raising their standards.
"I am grateful to have a strong backroom team where all members are united and share a common goal. Together with the players, we will remain focused and prepare fully for the upcoming qualifiers which will be played at the National Stadium.
"I would also humbly like to request for the continued support of our stakeholders, including the fans and the media, which would strengthen our chances of success.
"In addition to my duties on the field, I am also actively involved in the ongoing discussions relating to the new strategic plan.
"I will use my experience – both technical and management-related experiences – and contribute to the formulation of the new plans and programmes which will further enhance the standards of Singapore football."
In addition to Stange's contract extension, the FAS also announced that Juergen Raab had also extended his contract till December 31, 2015 and would continue to work with the Courts Young Lions until the end of the current S.League season.