Sundram in or Sundram out: Five points for Singapore football fans to ponder

The Lions' 3-0 defeat at the hands of Bahrain in the Asian Cup qualifiers has led to much debate over coach V Sundramoorthy's future. FourFourTwo's Matthew Mohan discusses some talking points worth considering... 

1. If not Sundram, who?

Remember Bernd Stange? Yes Stange, the coach that some hunted with pitchforks after Singapore's embarrassing exit from the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup.

There was excitement when Sundram took the reins

The same foreign coach that fans said had to go - infuriated with Stange's record of 15 wins, four draws and 16 losses over three years. Even one of our (former) writers called for his head.

Go for a local coach, they said. 

There was excitement when Sundram took the reins, local coaches and some former professionals urging the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to hand the Dazzler a long(er) term contract.

The FAS obliged, but now what?

Under Sundram, the Lions have played 21, won two, drawn five and lost 14 - and not won since November 2016.

Fandi has a good record at the club level

There have been suggestions for Aidil Sharin to take over, others Fandi Ahmad or Kadir Yahaya - Fandi, for one, has had a decent club track record.

Fandi did well at the helm of SAFFC (now Warriors FC), steadied the ship at Young Lions, guided Pelita Jaya into the Indonesian Super League and won the Malaysia FA Cup with LionsXII.

But does a decent club record translate to a stellar national team coaching stint? Let's not forget Sundram won the Malaysia Super League with the LionsXII...

A new coach will bring his own set of fresh ideas - but how much time before the boo-boys jump on his back?

2. The Safuwan-Hariss dilemma

Safuwan Baharudin as an out-and-out striker, Hariss Harun as a centre-back - these are some of the decisions made by Sundram which have fans peeved and perplexed - judging by the comments on social media.

And there is certainly a case to be made.

There has been much debate over where Hariss and Safuwan should play

Sundram has been trying to keep it tight defensively - perhaps the reason for Hariss' role at the back - but the Lions have continued to concede.

With Safuwan back in his favoured centre-back slot or even in central midfield, and Hariss back in the middle of the park, both players could give the Lions added compactness.

But compactness will not win games - the Lions need goals.

3. Goals, goals, goals

Under Sundram, the Lions have netted just 11 goals in 21 games - an average of 0.52 goals per game, with seven of those coming from open play.

Fingers have been pointed at the set-up, but unlike Raddy Avramovic - Sundram does not have the luxury of picking from the likes of Indra Sahdan, Noh Alam Shah and Aleksandar Duric.

Nizam could be an option for the Lions. Photo: Home United

What he has, however, are a number of strikers with the experience to lead the current crop of youngsters.

Take Shahril Ishak, the top local scorer in the league this season - tied with Faris Ramli on 11. Or Khairul Amri - who has proven himself at the highest level. There's Fazrul Nawaz as well.

While Shahril and Amri may not be able to last the full 90 minutes as they used to, that front two with the youthful Faris and Shawal Anuar in support could perhaps be worth a shot.

Khairul Nizam would have been the obvious choice for an out-and-out striker, but with him out for the season, it could be time to blood the likes of Fareez Farhan, Iqbal Hussain or Ikhsan Fandi, despite them not being up there in the goalscoring charts like Shahril, Faris and Nizam (seven league goals).