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Tsutomu Ogura to coach Singapore national football team

Tsutomu Ogura has been unveiled as the new director (national ‘A’ and Under-22 teams) in a press conference held at the Football Association of Singapore’s (FAS) Jalan Besar headquarters on Feb 1 – the 57-year-old is the third consecutive Japanese coach for the Lions.

Ogura is here on a two-year contract and replaces former national head coach Takayuki Nishigaya, who was fired on Jan 29. Nishigaya’s predecessor Tatsuma Yoshida quit the post in December 2021.

On top of leading the Lions, he will also oversee the performances of the Under-22/23 team and its coach.

In the wake of the Young Lions’ disastrous SEA Games campaign in 2023, the FAS convened a panel to review the performance and issued a set of 10 recommendations. One was to move the men’s under-23 and under-22 sides under the national team – which will be headed by the national head coach – to accelerate the transition of players to the senior squad and allow access to more resources.

FAS president Bernard Tan said in a statement: “I am pleased that we are able to convince someone of Ogura’s calibre to undertake the challenging role of Singapore’s national team head coach.

“Ogura has had a very diverse career in football which will no doubt be helpful not just in helping improve our national team but also the entire football ecosystem. He might not be known to local fans as some of the other candidates we spoke to but I am confident that he will soon win over both the players and fans, as well as the larger football fraternity.”

Noting that the Japan Football Association was not involved in his appointment, Tan said at a press conference on Feb 1: “We had interviewed a significant number of coaches. His CV shows that he is of repute and he has the qualities to bring Singapore football in the right direction.”

Ogura said: “I have come to Singapore because it’s a big challenge for me. It’s an adventure for my career.

“I watched Singapore play against South Korea and Thailand. From today, I want to observe the players. I know the two coaches before very well. It doesn’t matter if I’m the third Japanese. For me, what’s important is the future. Whether they are young or experienced, it doesn’t matter. What is important is technique and tactics and the fighting spirit.”

“Football fans expect to win – I promise to fight, show it on the pitch and that the players will show fight and courage. I want the team to bring more fans to come to watch the team.”

An Osaka native, Ogura holds an Uefa Pro Licence and was most recently assistant coach at Tokyo Verdy, who gained promotion to the Japanese top tier last season.

He was Japan’s assistant coach from 2006 to 2010 under Takeshi Okada and Ivica Osim and was part of the Samurai Blue’s World Cup campaign in 2010. He was then appointed assistant coach of Japan’s Olympic team from 2010 to 2012, when they finished fourth in London.

Ogura’s curriculum vitae also includes a stint as Yokohama F. Marinos’ sporting director from 2018-2021, a spell which saw current Tottenham Hotspur head coach Ange Postecoglou guide the club to their first J. League title in 15 years in 2019.

His only head coach role in a career that started in 1989 was a 13-game spell in charge of Omiya Ardija in 2013, where he had a record of three wins and 10 losses.