Nazri Nasir returns as Young Lions coach; Philippe Aw leaves FAS
Singapore assistant national coach and former Young Lions coach Nazri Nasir will lead the Under-22s for the Sept 6-12 Asian Football Confederation Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers in Vietnam.
Singapore are in Group C and will play Yemen on Sept 6, Guam on Sept 9 and the hosts on Sept 12. The 11 group winners and four best runners-up will qualify for the tournament in Qatar in 2024.
Nazri takes over the reins from Philippe Aw, who stepped down to seek “new opportunities elsewhere”.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS), which made the announcement on Wednesday, thanked the 53-year-old, who was also its head of methodology and assistant technical director, for his contributions.
Nazri will also “be involved with the Young Lions for the remainder of the 2023 Singapore Premier League season while also scouting and monitoring eligible players from other SPL clubs”, added the FAS.
While it is understood that he will be the Young Lions head coach in the SPL, the FAS did not state if the 52-year-old will remain in charge of the team after this campaign and take them through to the 2025 SEA Games.
Nazri, whose Young Lions failed to make it out of the group stage at the SEA Games in Hanoi in 2022, said: “I am aware that this is a hot seat at the moment, given the public sentiments post-SEA Games.
“All my career, I never shy away from difficult challenges, and I asked FAS to let me take a shot at it and laid out what I need to give a good account of ourselves at the tournament as I believe we will have a decent chance. Given the recent changes regarding tournament preparation, I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
In the wake of the Young Lions’ disastrous campaign in Cambodia and a public backlash, the FAS appointed a panel to conduct a review of the team’s performance in the regional Under-22 competition.
The FAS then revealed on Friday 10 key areas to work on in the next three to six months to improve the team’s fortune.
These include prioritising the SEA Games and U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers, which serve as Olympic qualifiers, over other tournaments such as the Asian Games, which the FAS announced its withdrawal from on Tuesday.
Another recommendation was that the team will have a minimum of two weeks to prepare for priority tournaments, with the FAS adjusting SPL scheduling to accommodate this.
This will also be implemented as the FAS shared that Nazri is set to have his provisional squad report for centralised training Aug 21, with tweaks made to the SPL fixtures to allow the team to have uninterrupted 14-day pre-competition preparation time before they leave for Vietnam.