Farewell Stange: How did the outgoing Singapore head coach fare against his predecessors?
Vincent Subramaniam (December 1998 – December 2000)
First 20 games: 10 wins, 3 draws, 7 defeats (Win Percentage: 50%)
Overall record (23 games): 11 wins, 3 draws, 9 defeats (Win Percentage: 47.8%)
Highest FIFA ranking: 81 (Dec 1998)
Lowest FIFA ranking: 107 (Oct 2000)
Biggest win: 4-0 vs Sri Lanka
Biggest defeat: 1-5 vs Qatar
Notable achievements: Five-game winning streak from 28 October to 9 November 2000
Vincent Subramaniam took over the top job in Singapore football on the back of his most successful spell as the head coach of Singapore Armed Forces Football Club (SAFFC).
After guiding them to two successive S.League titles, he was the popular choice among many to replace the outgoing Barry Whitbread who had just guided the Lions to their maiden Tiger Cup success.
Vincent's record from his first 20 outings was pretty good, but most of his 11 wins came against weaker opponents, including the like of Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and non-Asean countries like Macau and Sri Lanka.
What happened after that?
When it mattered the most, Vincent’s side faltered – back to back losses to Vietnam and Malaysia in the Tiger Cup knocked them out of the tournament. He was unceremoniously given the sack after his failure to guide the defending champions out of the group stages. Sound familiar, anyone?
Jan Poulsen (December 2000 – December 2002)
First 20 games: 4 wins, 5 draws, 11 defeats (Win Percentage: 20%)
Overall record (23 games): 5 wins, 6 draws, 12 defeats (Win Percentage: 21.7%)
Highest FIFA ranking: 101 (Dec 2000)
Lowest FIFA ranking: 120 (Oct 2002)
Biggest win: 3-0 vs New Zealand
Biggest defeat: 0-5 vs Thailand
Notable achievements: Wins against New Zealand and North Korea.
The then Technical Director took matters in his own hands after Vincent was given the boot, and although he was part of the backroom staff in Denmark’s 1998 World Cup squad, he rarely displayed any coaching nous.
He started his stint with just 2 wins against New Zealand and North Korean in his first 11 games in charge, and things never looked promising in his time. The Lions always looked incapable of churning out wins under Poulsen and when they did, they looked very unconvincing.
What happened after that?
Much was expected from Singapore as they hosted the Tiger Cup in 2002. Yet, the Lions failed to deliver - a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Causeway rivals meant that Poulsen and his team had a mountain to climb to advance from the group stages. An unconvincing 2-1 win over minnows Laos gave them a fighting chance, but they could only manage a 1-1 draw against Thailand, allowing the War Elephants to advance on goal difference.
The public weren’t impressed; that led to the Football Association of Singapore giving in to the pressure, handing Poulsen his marching orders. Once again, we've seen this scenario somewhere before.