Bernd Stange’s three years … in his own unique words
He did leave some memorable quotes behind though, as FourFourTwo looks back at the comments he made during his tenure...
“I believe in team work … you can’t lift this pebble with one finger – it is impossible and you need your whole hand; if better, both [hands]. Singapore football will be a rock in the future."
(May 15, 2013, Stange’s first press conference)
When Stange held his first press conference in Singapore, he amazingly brought out a small stone from under the table and tried to illustrate how working together was important.
Comical or inspirational? Purely subjective but FourFourTwo is pretty sure you will not see a scene like this very often.
“In my view, we have many players who are overweight. But, if I have a fit player who cannot kick the ball, and a fat player who can play well, I will take the fat one, because we can work with him and train him.”
(July 18, 2013, TNP)
Just months after he took over the Singapore national team, Stange once again stirred interest with his comments on how the squad has many overweight players.
If you didn’t know better, it might have been assumed that half of the national squad back then were obese.
But to put things into context, Stange did tell The New Paper he had expected his players to have 10 per cent body fat or less, which many players had exceeded then. Hence, many of them were "overweight”.
“Our current players are semi-professionals or even amateurs as they have work, school and national service commitments.”
(16 August, 2014, Post-match press conference at Sports Hub)
Just one year after his tenure, Stange finally realised how strenuous his job could be.
After a Singapore Selection side was handed a 5-0 whooping by Serie A club Juventus, he called for more professionalism from our players, and urged all stakeholders to call together to help raise the level of football in Singapore.
“Please don’t finger me [sic] for not trying to bring those teams, it is difficult to convince the top-class teams to come to Singapore, and especially to play on the artificial turf at Jalan Besar.”
(30 March, 2015, pre-match match press conference against Guam)
When he first arrived on these shores, Stange promised he would utilise his contacts and try to persuade the likes of Fabio Capello and Carlos Quieroz to bring their national teams to Singapore to spar against.
However, this came to naught and the highest-ranked opponents Singapore faced was China. Tough opponents, but not in the same class as Russia, you would say.
“What would be a good result? It would be a world sensation if we take a draw from Japan.”
(June 15, 2015, FAS)
Stange’s word proved prophetic in the days to come, as Singapore held the Asian giants to a 0-0 draw in Japan’s own backyard.
It was a world sensation indeed, as Izwan Mahbud’s performance was lauded and captured the attention of many. In the months to come, many would repeatedly ask Izwan about how he felt that night and whether that result will help him against the likes of Arsenal, Syria and Japan again.
"I don't allow lies!"
(July 15, 2015, TNP)
On the basis of this quote, Stange had a very public spat with former Singapore Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar.
After the SEA Games 2015 failure, Aide was quoted how his hands were tied in some instances while he coached the under-23s team and he hinted at Stange's involvement in some capacity.
This prompted an outraged response from Stange before both of them were taken to task by the Football Association of Singapore.
“It's party time!”
(16 November, 2015, pre-match press conference against Japan)
These three words will come back to haunt Stange, as what followed was a 3-0 trouncing by the Japaneses. Probably wasn’t the best of ideas to declare it was party time ahead of crucial games with Japan and Syria.
"I (won't) allow anybody to be too negative about our performances.”
(March 24, 2015, pre-match conference for international friendly with Myanmar)
Whether it was the stress he faced from the media, or he genuinely believed it was in the best interests of his players, Stange actually told the press that he would not accept any criticism of his team.
It would have been better to leave this job to Football Association of Singapore’s media officers and for Stange to just concentrate on his job but hey, credit to him for trying.
“While we received only half the amount of necessary resources in recent years, we have achieved good success … Only with the required amount of resources, including funding, can we achieve more footballing success for this beautiful country.”
(March 28, 2016, Stange’s media statement after 2-1 loss to Afghanistan)
In one of his last statements, Stange shared that he had only half the resources he needed to turn Singapore’s fortune around.
This statement might be taken with a pinch of salt, considering former coach Radojko Avramovic did much more with considerably less.
But like the man said, more resources can mean more footballing success for Singapore, so let’s try and make sure the next man in the job gets what he needs.