Lions team manager Azrulnizam steps down

SINGAPORE - National football team manager Azrulnizam Shah has resigned - less than a year after his appointment. Besides looking after national team affairs such as player welfare and the logistics of overseas trips, he was also the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) head of football science and medicine.

Azrulnizam said: "It was a tough decision but after much consideration, I have decided to move on and pursue other opportunities.

"I have gained vast knowledge in areas such as football science and medicine, the involvement with the national team set-up as well as various projects including the SEA Games. I would like to thank the FAS management for giving me a multitude of opportunities."

It is unclear what prompted the 30-year-old to quit after less than a year in the job. Azrulnizam declined further comment.

In a statement, the FAS thanked him for his contributions and has already started the recruitment process for a new Lions team manager.

Although new to the football scene, the former sports psychologist was a key figure behind the Lions' adoption of sports science to boost fitness and performance levels.

This included the purchase of a body composition analyser - a common sight at the Lions' training sessions - that monitors players' body fat percentage, body mass index, muscle mass and metabolic rate.

Video analysis and statistics are also used to measure the team's performances.

Azrulnizam joined the FAS last March, succeeding Eugene Loo as the Lions team manager. Loo, who held the post from 2004 to January 2013, has since moved on to the Singapore Sports Council.

LionsXII team manager Visakan Subramanian is expected to fill in temporarily for the final 2015 Asian Cup qualifier away to Oman on March 5.

Azrulnizam's departure surprised Singapore captain Shahril Ishak, who called him an "easy-going and approachable fellow".

The Johor Darul Takzim II forward said: "Shah remembered the players' birthdays and would arrange for a cake after training. It's small things like this that showed his commitment to the cause."

Last week, in another change to the Lions' set-up, Englishman John Burridge, 62, was roped in as a goalkeeping coach instructor.

The former Newcastle United and Manchester City custodian will work with national team coaches and conduct goalkeeping courses, in addition to identifying young prospects in goal.

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