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Sazali Abdul Aziz
Friday, Nov 7, 2014

Sports

Sundram leave Negeri

The New Paper | Sazali Abdul Aziz | Friday, Nov 7, 2014

The club had been struggling to make an impression for much of the year and inevitably, his future was called into question.

Now, it has been confirmed: former LionsXII coach V Sundramoorthy has been relieved of his duties from second-tier Malaysian side Negeri Sembilan.

Malaysian Premier League side Negeri yesterday announced that K Devan would take over as head coach for the 2015 season.

The New Paper understands Sundram, 49, is in Malaysia sorting out his compensation over his two-year contract and is close to a resolution.

In a surprising development, Sundram, who masterminded the LionsXII's magical ride to the Malaysian Super League (MSL) title in 2013, could make a return to local football, with Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League sides Tampines Rovers and Brunei DPMM rumoured to be keen on his services.

In April, Tampines promoted their Prime League coach, former Singapore star Rafi Ali, to take over the reins of the S.League giants after Salim Moin resigned following a poor run.

Rafi, 41, did improve the team's fortunes but was ultimately unable to guide the Stags to a fourth consecutive S.League title, as the club finished third, four points behind champions Warriors FC.

Tampines also missed out on a shot at silverware when they lost in the semi-finals of the RHB Singapore Cup.

They will contest the play-off for third place tomorrow before ending their season.

DPMM coach Steve Kean, meanwhile, has attracted interest from various Thai clubs throughout the year and was understood to be in Bangkok for talks as recently as last month.

The Scot led the Bruneian side to a second-placed finish in the S.League and won the StarHub League Cup in July.

Sundram could not be reached for comment last night, but it is understood his split with Negeri was an amicable one.

In an interview with TNP in April, he said: "Any foreign coach working abroad has to deliver.

"It doesn't matter how well you play, or if the team were unlucky in defeat - it's only about results."

In July last year, the former Singapore attacking wizard guided the LionsXII to the MSL title in just their second season back in Malaysian football.

He left at the end of the season to sign a two-year deal with Negeri, reportedly on a monthly salary of US$20,000 ($25,000). He was tasked with getting the team promoted to the MSL.

FUNDS

The club provided funds for him to sign four foreigners.

But, after some less-than-satisfactory results early in the season, club president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said he would revamp the squad and replace Sundram, if results didn't improve.

Negeri's form picked up for a while, but Cameroon striker Jean Effa Owona and former Geylang forward Jozef Kaplan of Slovakia were then released in mid-season - Effa due to a lengthy injury and Kaplan because of poor form.

They eventually finished sixth in the 12-team Premier League with eight wins, six draws and eight losses.

Negeri's finish meant they did not qualify for the Malaysia Cup, the prestigious tournament in which they reached three consecutive finals from 2009 to 2011. They won the Cup in 2009 and 2011.

msazali@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 05, 2014.
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