FAS will stick with mentor programme

The Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) decision to appoint "technical advisers" for the head coaches of their national age-group teams has not yielded results, yet.

Last month, Singapore's Under-14 and Under-15 teams took part in separate competitions.

The Under-14 team, coached by Japanese Takuma Koga, had FAS technical director Slobodan Pavkovic as adviser and lost all three of their Group B games at the Asian Youth Games in Nanjing, China.

Former Lions skipper Nazri Nasir's Under-15 team, meanwhile, with former Geylang International coach Mike Wong as adviser, fluffed their lines against minnows Laos in the final group game at the AFF Under-16 championship in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, and failed to make it to the knockout rounds.

Apart from the two teams, the national Under-18 side coached by Dejan Gluscevic also has a technical adviser in former Singapore coach Jita Singh.

Some critics have wondered if the move to appoint technical advisers is necessary, especially when they interfere with training.

Egos could also be affected, as the coaches in charge of the teams are all qualified.

But the FAS insists the move to guide younger coaches like 44-year-old Koga and 42-year-old Nazri is the way forward.

In response to media queries, a spokesman said: "The appointment of technical advisers for our NFA (National Football Academy) teams is to aid the development of our staff coaches through mentorship by experienced personnel.

Important step

"This is an important step not just for overseas competitions but also for the development of the respective teams in the domestic competitions, which includes both on-field and off-the-pitch preparations.

"Our mentorship programme is part of our ongoing efforts which aim to provide opportunities for our local coaches to expand their capabilities and capacities by learning from experienced coaches."

FAS's decision to attach advisers to its age-group teams is not new.

In 2011, former Kuwait coach Pavkovic was attached to the Courts Young Lions (an Under-23 outfit) in the S-League in a similar role, mentoring Robin Chitrakar.

The arrangement continued until the SEA Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, at the end of the year, where the national Under-23 side bowed out at the group stage with Pavkovic in charge.

There were rumblings of discontent from local coaches then, who wondered why the technical director took the reins of the team.

The next high-profile youth tournament that awaits a Singapore outfit is the qualifying campaign for next year's AFC Under-16 championships.

Nazri's side have been drawn alongside Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau in Group G, which will be played from Sept 21 to 29.

Nazri has embraced the mentor system.

In an FAS statement, Nazri said: "I am pleased with the appointment of Mike Wong as the team adviser... in the recent AFF Under-16 Championship.

"Mike's experience and expertise helped both the team and myself improve throughout the tournament, and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to work alongside him to maximise my potential as a coach."

But Nazri's former international teammate R Sasikumar believes young coaches are not being given the full latitude to develop when the advisers make the key decisions.

He said: "Mentorship is always good, especially in the lead-up to tournaments, but I think it should end as soon as the competition starts.

"If they (technical advisers) want to call the shots, they have to put their necks on the line and not let someone else be the fall guy in case of failure.

"You can't just take the glory if the team win, and let someone else take the blame if the team fail."

Get The New Paper for more stories.