National Team - Lions ● Nov 07, 2018
Meet the Lions’ coaches for 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup
SINGAPORE, 8 NOVEMBER 2018 – Singapore’s road to the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup started five months ago, after Singapore’s favourite footballing son Fandi Ahmad was announced as the national coach for the tournament in May. Fandi has named his 23-man squad for the tournament but before he picked his players, he brought together a team of 14 other officials to support Singapore’s campaign.
In the first of a two-part series on the Lions’ backroom staff, we introduce you to the coaches supporting the Lions in their 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign.
Fandi Ahmad – Head coach
Having captained Singapore in the first edition of the AFF Championship in 1996 as a player, Fandi Ahmad now gets the unique opportunity to lead the National Team as head coach at a tournament.
The football legend’s exploits during his playing days made him a national icon and after retiring in 1997, Fandi took up coaching. His involvement with the national set-up started early on with an assistant coaching stint at the 1999 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, while he was also assistant to Radojko Avramovic in the Lions’ victorious 2004 AFF Championship campaign.
At club level, Fandi led Singapore Armed Forced FC (now Warriors FC) to two S.League (now Singapore Premier League) titles in 2000 and 2002, while he also coached overseas with Indonesia’s Pelita Raya (now Madura United FC) and Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim FC. He headed the LionsXII for two seasons, winning the Malaysia FA Cup on 2015 and returned to the Young Lions dugout for a second time earlier this year.
With 55 goals, the former striker is Singapore’s all-time top scorer and he will hope to get the current side firing at this year’s tournament. Having won three and drawn one of his first four friendly matches after being appointed in May, this represents Fandi’s maiden competitive assignment.
S Subramani – Assistant coach
The former S.League Player of the Year started his coaching career as assistant coach of Home United FC after hanging up his boots in 2009. Subramani had captained the same club for 10 years before his retirement, having been with the club since 1999.
In late 2011, he joined the Institute of Education (ITE) as a physical education (PE) lecturer, but continued his involvement in local football, assisting then-Young Lions coach Robin Chitrakar on a part-time basis.
“Mani” coached the Young Lions and the Under-23 National Team through the 2015 SEA Games, and returned to part-time coaching with Fandi’s Under-20 squad last year. This year, the 46-year-old continues his partnership with Fandi in the Young Lions, Under-23 National Team and now the National Team.
It is the three-time AFF Championship winner’s first time being involved in the biennial international tournament as a coach, after featuring in a total of six campaigns throughout his international playing career.
Robin Chitrakar – Assistant coach
Robin Chitrakar was seconded to the National Team for the Lions’ AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 campaign from Hougang United FC, where he oversees youth development as the Head of Youth (Centre of Excellence).
The 42-year-old is also a head coach at the ActiveSG Football Academy. He had an eight-year stint at the FAS from 2008 to 2015, taking charge of various National Football Academy (now known as FAS Football Academy) teams as well as the Young Lions.
Robin received the first-ever S.League Young Player of the Season award back in 1996. He was first called up to the National Team in 1997 for the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and was part of the squads for the 1999 SEA Games, the 2000 Asian Cup qualifiers and the 2000 AFF Championship. Due to various injuries, he hung up his boots in 2003 and turned to coaching, picking up his Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Professional Coaching Diploma in 2012.
Aleksandar Bozenko – Fitness coach
No stranger to Singapore football, Aleksander Bozenko, more commonly known as “Sasha”, first came to Singapore in 2004 on then-National Team head coach Radojko “Raddy” Avramović’s recommendation. He stayed on with the FAS after assisting Raddy during the Lions’ 2004 AFF Championship triumph, and continued to ensure the Lions were fit enough to win the 2007 and 2012 AFF Championships.
The 66-year-old Serb left Singapore in 2015 for Thai League 1 club Chonburi FC, before returning last year on Fandi’s request to train the team for the 2019 SEA Games. With 36 years of experience as a fitness coach, spanning countries such as Oman, Malaysia and United Arab Emirates, Sasha is highly regarded by both players and staff, and fans can be assured the team’s fitness levels will be in peak condition.
Chua Lye Heng – Goalkeeper coach
Chua Lye Heng had his roots in Tanjong Pagar United FC, having played in their Under-16 and Under-18 teams and later as a player-coach from 2013 to 2014.
He started playing football at 10 years old and unlike his peers then, Chua found greater satisfaction in preventing goals as compared to scoring them. An injury saw him take a detour into sepak takraw, which he started playing in 2002. But he remained passionate about football, coaching at Queensway Secondary School and later Jurong Junior College until 2014.
Former National Team goalkeeper coach Lee Bee Seng saw his potential as a coach and brought him into the FAS to coach the Under-17 and Under-18 goalkeepers in 2015. He took over as the Young Lions goalkeeper coach last year and was given the opportunity to join the National Team set-up this May.
Nor Azli – Video analyst
As a Technical analyst, Nor Azli records training sessions and matches, which help the coaching staff in tactical planning, as well as analyse both individual and team performances. The self-taught technical analyst joined the National Team set up in 2016.
In today’s digital age, where teams are increasingly utilising technology to gain an edge, Azli’s role takes on an added significance. Based on an understanding of what Fandi wants, he reviews the video footage, then cuts and compiles specific moments for coaches to review. These clips are also shared with players so they can better dissect their own performances.
Azli holds an AFC Professional Coaching Diploma and specialises in fitness and sports science. He has been coaching since 2004 in schools, clubs and National Youth teams and picked up technical analysis as a skill to enhance his training sessions.
Noh Alam Shah – Team mentor
Noh Alam Shah’s return to football was marked with scepticism from some quarters when he was appointed team manager for the Singapore Selection in The Sultan of Selangor’s Cup 2017. But he let his actions speak for themselves and proved that he had changed from his hot-headed days as a player.
He was brought in this May to provide a firm hand in guiding the Young Lions, but later took on a larger role when he helped with their training sessions. As a team mentor with the National Team, “Ah Long” provides the coaches with insight into the players’ psyche and describes his role as one of a broker between the players and coaches.
The 38-year-old has been involved in five editions of the AFF Championship, winning the title in 2004 and 2007. He is also the all-time top scorer in the tournament with 17 goals. Alam Shah has an AFC ‘B’ Coaching Diploma and also coaches grassroots football in the ActiveSG Football Academy.