Speaking on the sidelines of a Courts Young Lions training session at Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday, National Coach Bernd Strange finally gave his view on the SEA Games debacle, which saw the Singapore football team crashing out in an early group stage match in June this year.
Earlier, former Lions coach Aide Iskandar had made remarks about internal politics within the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) in which he blamed Bernd and FAS for the Lions’ humiliating defeat.
“I will answer for only things that are completely wrong,” the German coach said. “And it was Aide’s recommendation to give Faris and Sahil to the LionsXII.
“Because Faris told us if he could not play for the LionsXII, he would take up an offer from another MSL club.
“Secondly, (Aide) wrote in his e-mail that Sahil could not pass (the mandatory 2.4km) fitness test for the S.League and, to avoid more irritation and public blame, he recommended (Sahil) to the LionsXII.
“It’s very sad for me to correct my colleague (in public), but these are facts.
“All the other things in the Straits Times article, I will not make any comments before I speak to the FAS exco (executive committee).”
Stange even had the email documents to prove it. He took out his smart phone and showed The New Paper reports an e-mail dated 5th Dec, which seemed to back up his claims.
According to those emails, winger Faris was ready to accept a move to MSL giants Selangor, and was not keen to play in the Courts Young Lions team. Hence, coaches made the decision to have him in the LionsXII, an FAS developmental team, which would give Aide the chance to call him up for friendly matches and training camps that fall outside Fifa’s international dates.
Striker Sahil, meanwhile, needed six tries to clear the S.League’s mandatory 2.4km test under 10 minutes before the 2014 season, and subsequently missed the Young Lions’ first six games.
Stange said that he felt necessary to respond to what he thought was a blatantly lie by Aide. The former Hertha Berlin and Belarus coach hinted that he had more to say, but would reveal them only after the FAS exco meeting at the end of the month.
“A coach has every right to make mistakes,” said Stange. “But if (Louis) van Gaal fails with Manchester United, he cannot put his finger on (club director) Sir Bobby Charlton.”
He also brought up his failure in the Suzuki Cup, where the Lions were knocked out at the group stage.
“For example, at the Suzuki Cup, I have no right to say our team are not fit enough for 90 minutes and (fitness coach) Sasha Bozenko was responsible,” he said. “If a goalkeeper slips up, I don’t have the right to say the goalkeeper coach is responsible for that. It’s impossible in football. Head coaches are responsible for all that happens.”