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Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

Sports

LionsXII to play Raddy's Myanmar on tour

The Straits Times | Fabius Chen | Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

LionsXII striker Khairul Amri is set to be reunited with former Singapore coach Raddy Avramovic.

Just two months after taking on the Myanmar national football team coaching job, former Singapore coach Raddy Avramovic will be facing many of his one-time charges, such as Izwan Mahbud, Safuwan Baharudin and Khairul Amri.

The Straits Times has learnt that the LionsXII will serve as the first real test of the Serb's reign as Myanmar national football coach on May 2.

To be played at Yangon's Thuwunna Stadium, the friendly match marks the hosts' maiden outing against foreign opposition under their new trainer, after several games against domestic teams.

"We are very satisfied with the work he's done so far," Myanmar Football Federation general secretary Tin Aung yesterday said of Avramovic.

"He has come up with a plan for the rest of the year and it is starting to materialise with matches like this."

The Myanmar job is Avramovic's first since he stepped down as Singapore coach in December 2012, after guiding the Lions to three ASEAN Football Federation Cup successes.

He had also taken them to the third round of World Cup Asian zone qualifiers for the first time in the Republic's history.

Next week's friendly is part of Myanmar's preparations for the May 19-30 AFC Challenge Cup in the Maldives, where a spot in next year's AFC Asian Cup is at stake.

It will also provide the LionsXII some much-needed match practice while the Malaysian Super League takes a three-week break.

Following Saturday's 0-1 loss in Selangor, Fandi Ahmad's side will next be in action on May 13, when Johor Darul Takzim visit the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The match was originally scheduled for May 10, but has been postponed due to a Typhoon Haiyan Fund Raising match a day later.

"This is an opportunity for the boys to get some game time, while also gaining international exposure," Fandi said.

The 51-year-old's side, who are sixth in the 12-team MSL, will also face Myanmar champions Yangon United as part of their April 28 to May 3 training tour.

But all eyes will undoubtedly be on the meeting with Avramovic, to whom Fandi served as assistant from 2004 to 2006.

"He's a coach with a personal touch and fantastic tactical know-how," the former national captain said.

"I've learnt a lot from him, so it's safe to say he's had a very big influence on my coaching career."

This article was published on April 22 in The Straits Times.

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