Tatsuma Yoshida is the Lions' first Japanese coach
The ex-Jurong FC player begins tenure with 2 international friendlies next month
It took them one year, one month and 21 days before the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) finally settled on a permanent Lions tamer.
Tatsuma Yoshida, 44, was unveiled yesterday as Singapore coach - a first for a Japanese - at a press conference at the FAS headquarters at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Signed on an initial two-year deal, he fills the vacancy left by V. Sundram Moorthy, the last permanent Lions head coach.
Sundram stepped down from his role on April 9 last year.
National icon Fandi Ahmad then became interim national coach and led the team at the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup, before former national skipper Nazri Nasir was named caretaker coach during the international friendlies two months ago.
Nazri will work with Yoshida as assistant coach, as they gear up for international home friendlies against Solomon Islands (June 8) and Myanmar (June 11).
Yoshida said: "I am honoured to be appointed Singapore's national coach and thankful for the trust that FAS has placed in me. This position bears heavy responsibilities which I will undertake with commitment and pride.
"While I am aware that this is no easy task, I believe in the potential that Singapore football has to reach greater heights and success on the international stage, and look forward to embarking on this journey with the players and fans."
FAS president Lim Kia Tong revealed that Yoshida comes highly recommended by the Japan Football Association.
He was also keen to recruit someone who could instil a winning culture.
He said: "In order to have fast, attacking football and high intensity, a lot of discipline, hard work and hunger are needed. The radar shows this culture comes from Japan.
"This was demonstrated by Albirex Niigata (S) sweeping all the titles in 2018 even with young players, because their mindset is truly professional, full of commitment and passion.
"So, in order to succeed, we needed to have these elements and someone from a certain cultural background like Japan to drive it."
Yoshida is no stranger to Singapore, as he played only two games for Jurong FC in 2002, before suffering an injury that would force him to hang up his boots.
Before that, he played for J.League club Kashiwa Reysol from 1993 to 1996, and then moved to Kyoto Purple Sanga for two years. From 1999 to 2001, he had a three-year stint with Montedio Yamagata.
After retiring, he returned to Reysol where he spent seven years as an academy coach, before becoming the club's sports director from 2011-2014.
Yoshida lasted just one season each as head coach of the three clubs he managed - Reysol (2015), Albirex Niigata (2016) and Ventforet Kofu (2017).
Alan Gibson,who has followed Japanese football for more than 20 years and is the editor of JSoccer Magazine, a Japanese fanzine, expressed his surprise at the appointment.
He told TNP: "His teams just don't seem to click. It seems that, as part of a team, he does well. But, as the man making the decisions, he perhaps does not have the capabilities to rouse the players and bring them to his way of thinking. He has not proven anything on his own."
FAS deputy president Bernard Tan urged the media and public to look beyond Yoshida's managerial history.
He said: "There are couple of things that go into a selection of a coach that are away from a track record.
"Without naming names, we have appointed coaches with stellar track records before who have come into the team and not really performed as expected...
"We were looking for someone who can make an average player good and a good player better. Yoshida has done that with various teams."
- Age: 44
- Coaching career
2003-2010: Kashiwa Reysol academy coach
2011-2014:Kashiwa Reysol sports director
2015: Kashiwa Reysol head coach
2016: Albirex Niigata head coach
2017: Ventforet Kofu head coach