Coach Raddy to say goodbye

SINGAPORE - After a nine-year spell that includes two Asean Football Championship titles, Raddy Avramovic's reign as Singapore coach is set to end.

The Straits Times understands that - regardless of the team's performance at November's AFF Suzuki Cup - the Serb's contract will not be renewed.

This is believed to be a mutual decision, with Avramovic, whose contract ends next February, having told close friends and colleagues that he wants to explore fresh coaching opportunities in the Middle East and China. He is understood to have had a handful of approaches to manage clubs in these countries.

Sources say the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has already begun the search for a replacement - ahead of the 2015 Asian Cup qualifying campaign in February.

Responding to queries about whether Avramovic will lead the team for the Lions' opening Asian Cup qualifier against Jordan on Feb 6, the FAS said its main concern now is preparing the team for next month's Suzuki Cup.

It has set a target of reaching the final.

It added: "Our efforts and resources are channelled to our primary focus and we remain confident that coach Raddy is the man to lead the team into this competition. Any other issues will be discussed and decided only after the competition."

Avramovic, 62, will be bidding to win his third Asean title since taking over in 2003. During his time, the Lions won back-to-back Asean crowns in 2004 and 2007, earning praise for succeeding in spite of a small talent pool and limited resources.

But of late, his magic seems to have worn off. Fans called for his head after Singapore lost all six of their 2014 World Cup third-round qualifiers, conceding a whopping 20 goals and scoring only two in reply.

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