Two more local football coaches venture abroad
Noor Ali joins Japanese side Yamaga, Firdaus goes to Thai club Muangthong
In what is a double boost for Singapore football, two local coaches have made inroads into two of the region's best football leagues.
Former Singapore international Noor Ali left for Japan yesterday to join J2 League side Matsumoto Yamaga on a 10-month agreement.
The 42-year-old former head coach of S.League club Geylang International will be an assistant coach in Yamaga's Under-18 side, while also being part of the coaching staff of the club's first team.
Firdaus Kassim, on the other hand, has joined Thai League 1 giants Muangthong United on a one-year deal from newly promoted side Chainat FC.
The 29-year-old will serve as assistant coach to former S.League star and Thai international Tawan Sripan at the four-time Thai champions, who were the only South-east Asian club to qualify for the knockout rounds of the AFC Champions League last season.
Noor Ali is believed to be the first Singaporean to coach in Japanese football, and he is grateful to Geylang and the club's sponsor Epson for making the stint possible. In his absence, Yamaga coach Hirotaka Usui, who joined Geylang last year, will take over the coaching duties of the S.League side.
"It feels good to be making some sort of history, but what I'm really happy about is the learning experience. Japan is one of Asia's best footballing countries and I'll be getting an in-depth, first-hand look at what they do," Noor Ali told The Straits Times yesterday.
"Japanese players are fit, disciplined and hard-working, but what I really want to see is the method of coaching that has brought them so much success.
"There's the language barrier, but I've learnt some basic phrases to help me get by. I will be spending more time on it."
Noor Ali and Firdaus join a list of Singaporean coaches who have or are currently plying their trade abroad - either taking charge of senior and youth teams or holding technical positions.
Some of the notable ones are PN Sivaji (technical director of Myanmarese side Hanthawaddy United), Mike Wong (technical director of Laos Football Federation), Fandi Ahmad (ex-head coach of Indonesia's Madura United, formerly known as Pelita Jaya, and Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta'zim) and national head coach V. Sundram Moorthy (former head coach of Malaysian side Negeri Sembilan FA).
Firdaus hopes more doors will be opened for promising young coaches in Singapore.
"Good coaches breed good players. There are many young local coaches who are not getting proper opportunities in local football," said Firdaus, whose move to Thai football was made possible through contacts he made while obtaining his coaching qualifications in Thailand in 2016.
"I would urge our coaches to go abroad for courses to upgrade themselves. We have very good local instructors in Singapore, but you cannot substitute the experience of being exposed to a different type of football culture and interacting with regional coaches.
"With the change in the S.League ruling to promote more young players, I hope young coaches in Singapore will not be forgotten - they are the future of our football."