Football: I'll give my all, says new Lions coach Takayuki Nishigaya after signing two-year deal

Takayuki Nishigaya is finalising the paperwork to travel to Singapore and will assume his new role in May. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

SINGAPORE - Following a hiring process that took more than four months, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on Monday (April 25) confirmed the appointment of Takayuki Nishigaya as its new national men's head coach in a press conference held at its Jalan Besar headquarters.

Nishigaya is finalising the paperwork to travel to Singapore and will assume his new role in May. He will be assisted by Young Lions coach Nazri Nasir and staff coach and analyst Koichiro Iizuka.

On Sunday, The Straits Times had reported that the 48-year-old Japanese would replace compatriot Tatsuma Yoshida, who stepped down on Dec 31.

Nishigaya will take charge of the Lions for the June 8-14 Asian Cup qualifiers in which they will face hosts Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Myanmar.

He was recommended to FAS by the Japan Football Association technical committee, and appointed by a panel comprising FAS president Lim Kia Tong, deputy president Bernard Tan, vice-president Teo Hock Seng, council member Goh Tat Chuan and general secretary Yazeen Buhari.

This is Nishigaya's first international gig and he has signed a two-year contract.

He said: "I know the high regard in which Tatsuma is held by the Lions and fans, and the excellent work he has done with the team.

"It is my aim to build on the progress that he has made and, in that regard, the expertise and knowledge of Nazri - a former Singapore captain who commands the respect of the team - and Koichiro will be key to helping us achieve that.

"Together with the strong support from the fans and other stakeholders, I will give my all to help bring Singapore football forward."

Born in Shizuoka, Nishigaya is a former J.League defender who featured for top-tier sides Nagoya Grampus, Avispa Fukuoka, Tokyo Verdy and JEF United Chiba from 1996 to 2000. He moved to second-division Albirex Niigata in 2001 and retired at the end of the season.

Since then, he has had stints as assistant coach at Tsukuba University, Tokyo Verdy, Chukyo University, Albirex Niigata and Mito Hollyhock, before becoming Mito's head coach in mid-2015.

He helped the J2 League club stave off relegation (19th out of 22 teams) that year and achieve mid-table security (13th and 14th) in the next two seasons.

Nishigaya took over third-division club SC Sagamihara in 2018, and led them to a ninth-placed finish out of 17 teams. The following year, he joined second-tier team Matsumoto Yamaga as their Under-18 coach and became the senior side's assistant coach in 2020 before leaving the club last June.

FAS president Lim Kia Tong said: "We are delighted to have Nishigaya on board after a rigorous recruitment process. We knew that Tatsuma had left some big shoes to fill, and it was imperative that we found the best candidate who had the required character and attributes to succeed him.

"We believe that Nishigaya is exactly that and we are confident he can take on the challenge of continuing to make our Lions roar."

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