Singaporean coaches’ stock at all-time high: P.N. Sivaji
Success of Chennai's Akbar and Kedah's Aidil will open more doors, says veteran
Singapore football might be at a low ebb, but the stock of local coaches working overseas has never been higher, said veteran coach P.N. Sivaji.
The former national coach and technical director, who inked a deal to become Brunei's technical director in June, is among a slew of Singaporean coaches plying their trade abroad.
The list includes fellow former Lions coaches V. Sundram Moorthy, now in charge of Laos, and Vincent Subramaniam, who is Bhutan's technical director.
At club level, two names stand out - Aidil Sharin, who is the coach of Malaysian Super League side Kedah and Chennai City coach Akbar Nawas.
The duo have enjoyed success abroad with Aidil lifting the Malaysian FA Cup and reaching the Malaysia Cup final last year, while Akbar led Chennai to India's I-League title in 2018/19 after finishing second in the Philippines Football League with Global Cebu (now known as Global FC) in 2017.
Sivaji told The New Paper yesterday: "Initially, it was the case of whether we could go abroad, because nobody wanted Singaporean coaches at one time.
"Now that has changed, probably because people like Akbar are doing well, winning awards in India and Aidil is doing well in Malaysia.
"The good thing is it might open the eyes of others to say, 'Look, Singapore produces good coaches. Give them a chance, they may be able to help the team's performances'."
"I'm sure now people like Gavin (Lee), Mat Noor (Mohd Noor Ali) and Clement (Teo) will all be looking for this opportunity to go abroad and coach," Sivaji added, referring to the coaches of Singapore Premier League sides Tampines Rovers, Geylang International and Hougang United respectively.
Sivaji has extensive overseas coaching experience, having spent time as a coach and technical director in Myanmar with Hantharwady United and Kanbawza (now known as Shan United). He was also director of coach education for the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) before taking up his latest role with Brunei.
When asked if the stock of Singaporean coaches abroad is currently at a peak, the 68-year-old said: "When you look at it comparatively, I think this is the highest it has been, yeah.
"Previously, Jita (Singh) has been to Malaysia, Andrew Yap has been to Indonesia and Hussein Aljunied was coach of Brunei. But, compared to them, these guys now have gone much further, like Akbar has broken into the Indian market and done so well...
"The mere fact that these guys have gone abroad and done well is a fantastic thing. That will definitely open more doors."
While this season's AFC Cup has been cancelled due to Covid-19, Sivaji highlighted the regional tournament's potential to put local coaches in the shop window, pointing to Aidil.
During his stint at Home United (now known as Lion City Sailors), Aidil reached successive Asean Zone finals in 2017 and 2018, winning it in 2018, before being poached by Kedah two months later.
While Japan's Tatsuma Yoshida has done well since being appointed national coach last May, Sivaji believes that the success of Aidil, Akbar and 30-year-old Lee, who won the Singapore Cup in his first full season at Tampines last November, augurs well for Singaporean coaches in future.
SUPPORT LOCAL COACHES
"We must also support our local coaches, that is important," said Sivaji, who famously led Singapore to the Malaysia Cup final in 1993 and was national coach from 1992 to 1993.
"Sometimes, in many countries - I have been to Myanmar and now Brunei - they always think that foreign is better.
"And in many cases foreign maybe is better because they come with more knowledge or more experience.
"But we must also look at giving our locals (chances). When I got my break as national coach, I was given a chance.
"I'm sure for people like Gavin, the chances of becoming national coach or SEA Games coach in the future will be enhanced if they get a little bit of international experience under their belt.
"So when we talk about the national coach (job in the future) - maybe an Aidil Sharin or an Akbar Nawas would be a good call as candidates, because of the experience that they have gained overseas."
Evra: United miss out on signings because we send wrong guys for talks
Former Manchester United fullback Patrice Evra said the club's difficulties in the transfer market are the result of lawyers and not football people handling the negotiations.
United, who lost their English Premier League opener 3-1 at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday, have been linked with Borussia Dortmund's England winger Jadon Sancho throughout the close-season, but they have yet to agree to a deal.
In a video posted on Instagram, the 39-year-old ex-France international contrasted United's current approach, under chief executive Ed Woodward, with how the club were run when David Gill was CEO and Alex Ferguson the manager.
"When Manchester United needed a player, they (went) and they talk(ed) to them face-to-face," said Evra, who played for United from 2006 to 2014.
"When Ferguson and David Gill came to meet me at AS Monaco, it was worse than an interview from the CIA or FBI.
"But now my phone is ringing from a sporting director from (another) top club and they say, 'Patrice, can you please ask (contract negotiator) Matthew Judge to answer his phone'.
"People need to understand we send lawyers to talk to players... they talk about numbers - they are not people from the football world."
Dortmund beat United to the signature of Norway striker Erling Haaland and English midfielder Jude Bellingham from Birmingham City.
"We don't have any (signings) because we send the wrong people," Evra said, contrasting United's approach with how other clubs, such as Real Madrid tackle recruitment.
"They send people who know the club, who love the club to talk about the club, not some lawyers who talk about only money." - REUTERS