Football: Nazri Nasir to lead Lions for friendlies; new coach to be unveiled in April

This will be the second time that Nasir Nazri will be taking charge of the senior squad, following the Airmarine Cup. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Young Lions coach Nazri Nasir will lead the senior national team on an interim basis for the FAS Tri-Nations Series 2022, a three-team 'A' international friendly tournament to be hosted in Singapore from March 23 to 29.

The Lions will play Malaysia on March 26 and the Philippines on March 29, while Harimau Malaya and the Azkals will square off on March 23.

Up to 15,000 fans will be allowed for both Lions games - a record number during the pandemic - while the limit for the Malaysia-Philippines match is 5,000. All three matches will be played at the National Stadium and kick off at 8pm.

This will be the second time that Nazri will be taking charge of the senior squad, following the Airmarine Cup, a friendly quadrangular, that was held in Malaysia in 2019. Singapore beat Malaysia 1-0 and drew 1-1 with Oman before losing 5-4 on penalties then.

Nazri said: "It is always an honour to be selected to lead the national team for any international match. I worked closely with former national team coach Tatsuma Yoshida as his assistant when he joined us back in 2019.

"I intend to carry on the same philosophy and style of play that Tatsuma has instilled in the players while at the same time implementing my own tactics and strategies for the purposes of this Tri-Nations Series."

The Football Association of Singapore also said that the new Lions coach will likely be appointed in April. It had said in January that the vacancy would be filled by this month. The new man’s first major assignment will be the June 8-14 Asian Cup qualifiers against hosts Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Myanmar.

The Straits Times understands that following the departure of Yoshida for Ventforet Kofu at the turn of the year, the FAS assembled a five-man panel which interviewed candidates via Zoom and has whittled down more than 30 applicants to a three-man shortlist.

According to South Korean network SPOTV, former Home United (now known as Lion City Sailors) coach Lee Lim Saeng, a 50-year-old who won the Singapore Cup in 2011 and 2013 and the 2019 Korean FA Cup with Suwon Samsung Bluewings, is in the running.

The report also mentioned a European candidate, whom ST understands to be 59-year-old Englishman Stephen Constantine, who is best known for his work with India. He led them from 173rd in the Fifa rankings in 2015 to 96th in 2017.

Also believed to be in the mix is 53-year-old Japanese Kazuaki Yoshinaga, who is currently coach of Singapore Premier League side Albirex Niigata, with whom he won the league title and Coach of the Year award in 2017 and 2018.

He then took charge of the Albirex team in the J2 League in 2019, when they finished 10th out of 22 teams, before being re-appointed head coach of the Singaporean team this year.

Tickets to the Tri-Nations Series are priced at $20 for adults and $10 for students 16 and below and senior citizens 60 and above, go on sale from 10am, Friday on this website. Fans can get a 10 per cent discount when buying tickets for both Singapore matches, and may also buy tickets at the Sports Hub ticketing booth outside Kallang Wave on matchdays from 10am to 9.30pm.

Spectators will need to show proof of full vaccination, while children 12 and below who are exempted from vaccination must be accompanied by an adult 21 years old and above.

In line with the recent easing of safe management measures, fans will be able to sit without the need for social distancing but are required to be masked up at all times. Those traveling from abroad are reminded to prepare the TraceTogether app for entry.

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