I believe in potential of Singapore football to reach greater heights: New Lions coach Tatsuma Yoshida

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Tatsuma Yoshida is the first Japanese as well as the youngest coach in this millennium to lead the Singapore football team. PHOTO: J.LEAGUE

SINGAPORE - He was unveiled as Singapore football's new national coach on Thursday (May 30) but Tatsuma Yoshida wasted little time in stressing that teamwork within the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will be crucial to leading the Lions to success.

The 44-year-old is the first Japanese as well as the youngest coach in this millennium to lead the Republic. He has been appointed on a two-year deal and replaces V. Sundram Moorthy, who was the last permanent Singapore coach before he vacated the post in April 2018.

Since then, former national captains Fandi Ahmad and Nazri Nasir have both served on an interim and caretaker basis.

Yoshida's first assignments will be the upcoming international home friendlies against Solomon Islands (June 8) and Myanmar (June 11).

Speaking at a press conference at the Jalan Besar Stadium, where the FAS is based, Yoshida said: "I am honoured to be appointed Singapore's national team coach and thankful for the trust that FAS has placed in me. This position bears heavy responsibilities which I will undertake with commitment and pride.

"While I am aware that this is no easy task, I believe in the potential that Singapore football has to reach greater heights and success on the international stage and look forward to embarking on this journey with the players and fans.

"Teamwork is crucial in order for us to succeed which is why I am pleased to have local legends like (national Under-22 coach) Fandi and Nazri on board this journey. The synergy in my partnership with Fandi will be of utmost importance as the Under-22 team is critical to the long-term objectives of the national team."

The FAS earlier in May appointed 53-year-old Australian Joseph Palatsides as its new technical director after Belgian Michel Sablon stepped down in December 2018.

FAS president Lim Kia Tong said Yoshida will be assisted by Nazri, who served as caretaker coach for two games earlier this year.

Lim said: "We decided to shift our search within Asia. I spoke to the Japan FA president and sought his help in recommendation. Tatsuma comes highly recommended by their technical department.

"His experience with youth development was a key factor that the selection committee took into consideration. We are confident he will be able to bring about the high intensity, fast-moving style that we and fans look for."

Born in Chiba prefecture, Yoshida was a central midfielder and started his playing career with hometown club Kashiwa Reysol before turning out for Kyoto Sanga and Montedio Yamagata.

In 2002, he signed for Jurong FC and played under Sundram, then player-coach for the Cobras.

After hanging up his boots that year, Yoshida returned to Reysol, where he rose through the ranks from youth-team coach to technical director and then the head coach. While at Reysol, he helped to produce some national players like Marseille right-back Hiroki Sakai.

However, he then lasted just one season each as head coach of Reysol (2015) and Albirex Niigata (2016). His last head coach assignment was at Ventforet Kofu from 2017 to last year, and has no previous experience helming a national team.

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