SINGAPORE: Japanese tactician Tatsuma Yoshida will take over as the new head coach of the Singapore men’s national team, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced on Thursday (May 30).
Yoshida signed a two-year contract, with the option for an extension of another two years. The 44-year-old will fill the vacancy left by V Sundramoorthy, who was the last permanent head coach to manage the Lions. Sundram stepped down from his role in April last year.
"I am honoured to be appointed Singapore's national team coach and thankful for the trust the FAS has placed in me," said Yoshida in a media release. "The position bears heavy responsibilities which I will undertake with commitment and pride."
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Following Sundram’s departure, the national side was helmed in the interim by Fandi Ahmad, whose stint ended after Singapore was eliminated in the group stages at the AFF Suzuki Cup last November.
Ex-international Nazri Nasir then led the team as caretaker during international friendlies in March this year.
Speaking at a press conference at the Jalan Besar stadium, FAS president Lim Kia Tong said Yoshida had several qualities that the FAS' selection committee were looking for.
"In the past, the FAS has typically looked towards Europe for potential candidates," said Lim. "This time round we decided to shift our search within Asia and our radar shows Japan.
"The selection committee crystallised the profile of the coach we wanted, namely one who has the high intensity, fast-moving football philosophy as well as one who has focus and experience on youth development."
Yoshida, a former midfielder who made two appearances for now defunct local side Jurong FC, will be tasked with reviving the fortunes of the national team - currently ranked 160th in the world.
"One of the tasks put before him is to keep improving the FIFA ranking of Singapore football because in recent times we have seen some improvement and we must keep on improving," said Lim. "We expect that the standing of Singapore football will improve under his leadership."
Yoshida, who hails from Chiba prefecture, started his coaching career as Kashiwa Reysol’s youth team coach in 2003, producing players such as Marseille full-back Hiroki Sakai. Yoshida was then appointed the club’s sports director from 2011 to 2014.
He went on to take up short stints as head coach of Kashiwa and Albirex Niigata, with each lasting no more than one season. His most recent appointment was in 2017 with Ventforet Kofu, with the club relegated from the top tier. Yoshida left Ventforet in April last year.
But Lim said that Singapore's new head coach comes recommended by the Japan Football Association's technical department and this recommendation is endorsed by J.League president Mitsuru Murai.
"If you look at his CV alone in isolation, it may appear less impressive," said Lim in response to a question from the media. "But there are good reasons why he is strongly recommended and we fully accept the recommendation. From the interview itself, we have at the moment built quite entrenched confidence in Tatsuma Yoshida."
Yoshida's first assignment will be a friendly game on Jun 8, when the Lions face Solomon Islands at the National Stadium. They then face Myanmar on Jun 11.