SINGAPORE: On Monday (29 Jan), the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced the removal of Takayuki Nishigaya (西谷隆之) from his position as head coach of the Singapore men’s national football team due to a series of disappointing results.
The Lions occupy the bottom spot in their World Cup qualifying group after recent losses to Thailand and South Korea.
In a media statement, FAS said the decision to part ways with 50-year-old Mr Nishigaya, appointed less than two years ago, was made “after careful consideration.”
The governing body expressed dissatisfaction with the national team’s recent performance and results, stating they were “below expectations.”
To revitalize the team and provide ample time for preparation for upcoming crucial matches and the year-end AFF tournament, FAS emphasized the need for an early transition to a new successor.
“FAS believes that an early transition to a fresh successor would re-energise the team and allow a longer runway for the National Team to prepare for important matches in the next few months and the year-end AFF tournament.”
FAS expressed gratitude for Mr Nishigaya’s contributions to Singapore football and wished him success in his future endeavours.
FAS said a new successor would be revealed in due course.
From J-League player to Lions coach
Mr Nishigaya, a former J-League player with 100 appearances, began his coaching career in 2004 as a youth coach in Tokyo Verdy.
After serving as the youth head coach, he became an assistant coach at Albirex Niigata (2012) and Mito Hollyhock (2013-2015), eventually being promoted to head coach at the latter.
Mr Nishigaya also held coaching positions at SC Sagamihara and Matsumoto Yamaga, where he served as the under-18 head coach and first-team assistant in 2020, respectively.
He was hired on a two-year contract in April 2022 as the replacement for Tatsuma Yoshida, who left in December 2021, a year before his contract was up.
He was appointed following a hiring process that took more than four months. This was Nishigaya’s first international gig.
Mr Nishigaya was recommended to the FAS by the Japan Football Association technical committee and appointed by a panel comprising then-FAS president Lim Kia Tong, current president Bernard Tan, vice-president Teo Hock Seng, council member Goh Tat Chuan and general secretary Yazeen Buhari.
His tenure as Lions coach ends with eight wins, eight losses and five draws in 21 matches.
A particular low point of his spell was in January 2023, when the Lions were trounced 4-1 by Malaysia before a meek exit in the group stage of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championship.
While there were three straight wins – over Guam, in a two-legged World Cup qualifier, and Chinese Taipei – last September and October, the Lions have largely looked dismal under Nishigaya.
Tsutomu Ogura reportedly set to lead Singapore’s National Football team
The Singapore sports, entertainment, and lifestyle blog, TMSG, earlier reported that former Japan national team assistant coach Tsutomu Ogura (小倉勉) is poised to take on the role of head coach for the Singapore national football team.
In addition, Ogura’s club, Tokyo Verde, conveyed its appreciation with a thank-you message posted on its official Twitter account.
— 東京ヴェルディ（TOKYO VERDY）公式⚽ (@TokyoVerdySTAFF) January 12, 2024
Mr Ogura has served as assistant to several managers, including Japan national coaches Ivica Osim and Takeshi Okada.
If true, Mr Ogura will also be Singapore’s third consecutive Japanese head coach after Tatsuma Yoshida and Nishigaya.
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