By Susil Premalal
The Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL) has appointed Bosnian-born Australian Amir Alagic as the new head coach for the senior men's national football team, for the remaining World Cup qualifiers and the SAFF tournament in September.
Alagic, who holds the UEFA Pro License and boasts of vast experience at club and national level around the world, replaces Rumy Packeer Ali whose contract will not be extended when it expires in March.
Alagic said he hopes to build a young squad that could compete internationally, and has been given an interim contract till the SAFF tournament in Bangladesh, after which a decision on his long term future with the Sri Lankan team will be taken.
"I have already started my work here in Sri Lanka and I’m hoping to find and build a young talented squad, and promote Sri Lankan football to the next level in the international arena. I am looking forward to build a strong national team who can compete with any power house in world football," Alagic said.
He highlighted the amateur-nature of Sri Lankan football as an area of concern.
“Sri Lanka cannot forge ahead whilst playing amateur football. Professional football is essential for Sri Lanka and we should strive to achieve this,” Alagic added.
“I saw in the past week how Sri Lanka footballers are playing. There are a lot of short comings and they are not fit enough,” he further said.
Alagic, who is believed to have signed for a salary of around US$ 5,000 to 6,000, and is expected to recommend a foreign goal-keeping and assistant coach.
The FFSL has identified two overseas players – Ryan Pieris and Greef Pieris currently playing in England -- who are eligible to represent Sri Lanka, with the FFSL expected to approach them about representing the country.
Alagic started his coaching career in 1996 joining with Dandenong Thunder SC in Australia, while he served as Head Coach for Brunei National Team and Under-19 National Team of Bosnia. He will also function as an administrator as well.
Sri Lanka will play North Korea on March 26 before taking on South Korea on March 31 and Lebanon on June 4 in the remaining World Cup qualifiers.
The SAFF Championship will take place in Dhaka, Bangladesh from September 7 to 19.
"We were able to give more exposure to our national team by giving more international matches during the past two years though we were unable to get the expected results. Therefore, we were looking forward for a Pro-Licensed Coach and we hope that under the new head coach the national team will start a new journey with new approaches under his guidance," FFSL President Anura de Silva said.