Kadir Yahaya answers call to help SEA Games football team
Some have called for him to be the local man to assist the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) new technical director - revealed yesterday as Belgian Michel Sablon - while others have said it is a role he can already play.
He is regarded as one of the brightest local coaches in the country, and Kadir Yahaya is now back to help Singapore football.
The media-shy 46-year-old will throw his weight behind the Republic's quest for a historic first gold medal in football at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games, which will be held here from June 5 to 16.
With around two months to go before the Under-23 tournament kicks off, Kadir will join the staff of SEA Games head coach Aide Iskandar, who is delighted to have the help of his former international teammate.
"I requested for him a year ago, and finally, he has answered my call. He is an asset not just for the Games, but really, also for Singapore football," Aide told The New Paper yesterday, on the sidelines of a training session at the Geylang Field, which was graced by Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong.
"Kadir, S Subramani (assistant coach) and I used to play together, and I'm happy to have him work closely with us."
The move is a most welcome one, especially considering the poor run of form suffered by Aide's charges, who have lost all three international games they have played this year.
V Sundramoorthy won the Malaysian Super League with the LionsXII in 2013, a year after setting the foundations for that success, with Kadir by his side.
Sundram has previously called on the FAS to convince the former international defender to return to the coaching fold, and he said: "Kadir will definitely help the SEA Games team prepare well, from ensuring discipline to looking after the tactical side of the game.
"But we must remember that in the end, the boys are the ones who will take to the pitch, and they must have that pride and hunger."
While Sundram's assistant coach at Tampines Rovers, Aleksandar Duric, expressed concern at the short time Kadir has to make an impact at the SEA Games, his eyes did light up when told of the development.
"It's the best piece of news I've heard so far, and I think the extra eyes on the pitch will help Aide spot things that perhaps he may have missed," said Duric.
"I think Kadir's presence can help give confidence to the boys. I think he can make a difference."
Kadir will join the team in their training session on Monday.
He famously led the Republic's Under-15s to a bronze medal at the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games here, and just two days ago, he guided St Joseph's Institution (SJI) to their first football title in 30 years, when they beat Queensway Secondary School 1-0 in the National Schools' South Zone B Division final.
Kadir will not leave his role at SJI, but will instead juggle both tasks.
Aide is pulling out all the stops to ensure that his boys have the best chance of striking gold in June, by tapping into the institutional knowledge in the fraternity.
"I've had good chats and got good tips from former internationals, and even coaches like Sundram, who've been there and done that, and I must say that I feel a unity ahead of the Games," said the 40-year-old.
"Of course there are problems and criticisms, but there has also been a lot of encouragement.
"I'm still a young coach, who want to be the best, but I'm still learning, and I'm open to feedback - it can only help us improve," added Aide.
Met with our national U-23 football team at their new training ground in Geylang. The team comprise players largely from the Young Lions and a few from the LionsXII, and they’re preparing for the upcoming SEA Games.
I know Singaporeans are passionate about football. Many have commented about the team’s recent performances and called for changes to be made. I can’t speak for the Football Association of Singapore. But I’d just like to say that this is OUR TEAM. The boys are training hard every day. They may be the underdogs in the competition, but they’ve not lost the fighting spirit. They are ‘pumped up’ (as one of them said to me), and I can see that they are committed to doing their best. So let’s rally behind them, cheer for them, and give them the best possible home ground support for the SEA Games!
— Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who posted on his Facebook