The next Singapore coach? Ex-Iraq coach Vieira relishes challenge with Lions
Vieira, who led war-torn Iraq to the Asian Cup in 2007, tells TNP he fits criteria of being next Singapore coach
He masterminded one of world football's most unlikely triumphs, guiding an unfancied, war-ravaged Iraq team to their only Asian Cup triumph in 2007.
Having led the Lions of Mesopotamia to probably their greatest success, Jorvan Vieira is now turning his sights to another pride of Lions.
The 65-year-old Brazilian confirmed to The New Paper that he is one of the six candidates the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has interviewed for the vacant national coach job, adding that he has rejected two offers from teams in Arabic countries because he is "very excited and interested" in the role of Lion tamer.
Vieira has spent the bulk of his career coaching club and national sides in the Arab world, but he is most famous for his exploits with Iraq.
On the 10th anniversary of Iraq's Asian Cup triumph last year, Esquire magazine's Middle East edition called it "the world's best underdog story".
The remarkability of Iraq's journey to becoming Asian champions was highlighted by the fact that Vieira had never been to Iraq until after the victory, owing to internal strife in the war-torn country.
In the build-up to the tournament - which was co-hosted by Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam - the team's physio was killed by a car bomb after being given time off to witness the birth of his child in Baghdad.
Vieira's title-winning side included Jassim Ghulam, who turned up uninvited to the team's training camp in Jordan, begging for a chance to play.
The defender ended up playing in all six games of Iraq's victorious campaign.
Vieira believes his knowledge of Asian football and the mentality of players in the region mean he is well-suited for the Lions' job.
Speaking via a phone interview from Morocco, he told TNP: "It's an honour to be contacted by (FAS).
"I'm very excited and interested in the job. I've had so many offers. Just yesterday, I refused two offers from teams in Arabic countries because I want to coach Singapore...
"It's not financial, I like challenges and I want this one.
"I've worked all over the Asian continent. I know football in the continent, I understand the Asian mentality. I know how Singaporean people work."
Vieira says his understanding of Singapore is borne from his time coaching Malaysia's Under-20 team from 2000-2004.
He explained: "When I was in Malaysia, I used to come to Singapore on weekends with my family, I really liked the place.
"Even after I left, I've followed Malaysia and Singapore's results in internationals and their domestic leagues.
"I have been following the (Asean Football Federation) Suzuki Cup. I know (being Singapore coach) will not be easy.
FITS THE BILL
"The (Singapore Premier) League needs to be a little bit stronger but there is a possibility to create a good national team, but it will take time."
The Brazilian, who resigned from his last role as coach of Egyptian top-flight side Ismaily around two weeks ago, has unfinished business in South-east Asia.
Last year, he was on a two-man shortlist to take over as Thailand coach, but lost out to Milovan Rajevac.
Vieira is confident he meets the criteria that FAS president Lim Kia Tong set out for the new national coach last week.
Lim said: "We need a national coach who has the tenacity to build up our youth... to eventually replenish the national team... The team must now be able to play high-intensity, hard pressing and a fast-moving game."
When asked about FAS' requirements, Vieira said: "Of course, I fit the criteria. I've always promoted young players...
"My style depends on who we play and what type of players I have... but I like to play offensive football.
"My team have to work hard on the field and off it (during training). Good organisation is important and so is good ball circulation.
"My teams must work hard and have fighting spirit, that is how I won the Asian Cup with Iraq despite all the difficulties."
According to a Straits Times report last week, Vieira's rivals for the national coach job include former South Africa, Finland and England Under-20 coach Stuart Baxter and ex-United States captain Thomas Dooley, who coached the Philippines for four years.
Whoever gets the job will succeed Fandi Ahmad, who will return to his role as head coach of youth after serving as interim national coach from May, during which he helmed the Lions at the AFF Suzuki Cup.