Singapore national football team coach V Sundramoorthy and technical director Michael Sablon were handed two-year contract extensions on Monday by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
In a statement released by the FAS, the governing body has said that it had decided to give the 51-year-old tactician another chance even after the latter failed to achieve his target at last year's AFF Suzuki Cup - at least a semi-final finish. The Lions crashed out of the biennial tournament without even winning a match and collected only one point, which was the worst ever performance by the four-time champions.
Notably, Sundram joined the Lions as caretaker coach in May last year and has led the team to only two wins in 10 matches. The FAS has now revealed that it expects the coach to lead the team into the final stages of 2019 AFC Asian Cup but Singapore, ranked 163, has been handed a tough draw as they have been grouped alongside higher-ranked teams Bahrain (127), Turkmenistan (144) and Chinese Taipei (149) in Group E.
"We have also extended the contract of Coach V. Sundram Moorthy who will lead the Lions in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2019 final-round qualifiers which will kick off later this month," the statement on FAS' official website read.
"Despite Sundram not achieving the target of a semi-final berth at the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2016, we believe he should be given another chance to prove himself.
"We will support Sundram fully and we expect the Lions to secure a top-two placing in Group E of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 final-round qualifiers and qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 which will be held in the UAE."
Singapore will take on Bahrain in their opening encounter on 28 March and the Lions have never beaten their higher-ranked opponents in their last seven meetings. They also faced a 3-1 defeat in September last year. Sundram, who has been vocal about maintaining defensive discipline to upset the odds at the qualifying campaign, expressed his delight on having bagged a contract extension.
"As a Singaporean, it's an honour to coach the National Team and I am very happy to have extended my contract. I am determined to lead our Lions to success during the AFC Asian Cup 2019 final-round qualifying campaign and I look forward to the support of our partners as we continue to develop and grow this sport to its full potential," Sundram said.