THE Football Association of Singapore seems set to go foreign again when it picks the new Lions coach.
Yesterday, the FAS confirmed that 63-year-old Raddy Avramovic's contract will not be renewed, despite leading the team to a record fourth AFF Cup title earlier this month. And that it has appointed Sports Recruitment International (SRI) to help in a worldwide search for the man to take over Asean football's most successful national team.
The firm's clientele includes the English Football Association, as well as Italian club giants Juventus, and it has offices in Singapore, Australia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
"Sports Recruitment International has an in-depth understanding of the global football industry, the Singapore sporting landscape and our requirements," FAS president Zainudin Nordin said in a statement.
While this move is the strongest indication yet that the new national coach is set to come from overseas, the FAS told The Straits Times that it also "welcomes applications from all suitably qualified candidates of any nationality".
There has been talk of giving V. Sundramoorthy or Fandi Ahmad - two of the country's most illustrious former players - a shot at becoming the first Singaporean coach since Vincent Subramaniam stepped down in 2000.
"At the present moment, they are probably the only two local coaches who are ready to make the step up," said A. Shasi Kumar, former coach of S-League side Woodlands Wellington.
Both, however, seem to be unavailable. Sundram is beginning his second season as coach of the Malaysian Super League team LionsXII, while Fandi has been handed the reigns at free-spending Johor Darul Takzim.
Mr Zainudin insisted that the FAS will not be rushed into hiring a new coach, and an interim coach could be installed for the Feb 6 Asian Cup opening Group A qualifier away to Jordan.
Mike Wong, Avramovic's right-hand man at the recent Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup, is believed to be under consideration, as is former national captain Aide Iskandar.
Three-time S-League Coach of the Year Richard Bok has urged the FAS to make sure there will be a local presence in the coaching staff, when it finally decides on its man. He said: "If you get a foreign coach, you definitely need a local assistant, who knows the players well."