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Ogura brings in two new staff members

New Lions coach Tsutomu Ogura has named compatriot Kosei Nakamura as his assistant coach for the national team, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced on March 7.

In addition, BG Tampines Rovers coach Gavin Lee will be part of the backroom staff for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against China – at home on March 21 and away five days later.

Nakamura has previously played locally, plying his trade for Albirex Niigata in 2005, and was until recently the assistant coach of J1 League giants Kashima Antlers. Lee, meanwhile, has been at the helm of Tampines since 2019.

Ogura, who was appointed in February, said: “I am very encouraged that everyone has come together to work towards a common goal of improving our national team.

“I have met all the SPL (Singapore Premier League) coaches and look forward to working with all of them. I am also very grateful to Tampines that they have agreed to allow their head coach Gavin to join the national team for the China games.”

Nakamura, 42, started off as an academy coach at Kashima in 2007. He then rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the senior side’s assistant coach.

Lee, who became the youngest coach in the SPL in 2019, won the Singapore Cup that same year and led Tampines in their Asian Football Confederation Champions League debut in 2021.

The 33-year-old told The Straits Times he was “honoured and grateful” at the appointment, adding: “It’s exciting to give my support to the national team from a local coach’s perspective and I’ll do my best.

“I’ll try to bring across my knowledge and experience to support the team (in getting) a better level of performances.”

On whether the move will impact the Stags, who are currently in pre-season training, Lee said: “Tampines will have players getting called up in this window as well. This is another thing that we’re more than ready to deal with. We have a very good technical team and I’m sure they’ll continue the good work while I’m away.”

The duo will join the national team on March 11, when centralised training in preparation for the two matches begins.

The Lions lost their first two fixtures, against Thailand and South Korea, and sit bottom of Group C. Ogura, 57, had previously urged supporters to get behind the team. He said in February: “These two matches against China are very important for us.

“They are not easy but with your support, especially at home in our first match together, I am confident that you – Singaporeans and fans – will get behind us to make a difference.”