AFF Suzuki Cup: Lions coach Tatsuma Yoshida resigns after semi-final run

·4-min read
Singapore head coach, Tatsuma Yoshida (C) gives instructions to substitutes, Faris Ramli (L) and M Anumanthan during the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 Group A match between Singapore and Timor Leste at National Stadium on December 14, 2021 in Singapore.
 (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Singapore head coach Tatsuma Yoshida (centre) gives instructions to his players during the 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup. (PHOTO: Suhaimi Abdullah/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Singapore's national football team head coach Tatsuma Yoshida has resigned and will leave his post despite leading the Lions to their first AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final appearance since 2012 earlier this month.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced the 47-year-old Japanese's decision on Tuesday (28 December), following a reception hosted by Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, at Jalan Besar Stadium to commend the Lions' efforts at the biennial Cup competition.

It added that Yoshida will be leaving the organisation on Friday "in order to return home to Japan and be with his family during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic".

Yoshida said in a media release that it had not been easy to reach his decision to resign.

"A part of me wishes that I did not have to make it at all. The last two years have not been easy for me and my family given the travel restrictions that were in place as a result of the pandemic," he said. 

"Since my first day in the FAS, I have been made to feel welcome, not just by the management, but by every single member of the staff in the organisation and our fans.

“Even though I will be returning to my family in Japan, I leave behind my second ‘family’ here with an extremely heavy heart. I have always trusted and had full confidence in these players, my boys, and I know they have the potential to be among the region’s best as long as they continue to believe in themselves. 

"More importantly, everyone in Singapore, from the government stakeholders, the media and most importantly, the fans, need to continue supporting the team wholeheartedly so that we can all see them progressing to the next level. 

"I hope to have laid the foundations for the kind of play and passion required in international football, and I am sure the Lions are capable of continuing this journey to see them go on to achieve even more successes. I will continue to support Singapore football from afar and it is my wish that it will only grow from strength to strength in the years to come.”

Led Lions in 20 matches, winning 6 times

Singapore were eliminated in the semi-final stage following a 3-5 aggregate defeat by Indonesia, including a controversial 2-4 loss in the second leg on Saturday.

Yoshida was appointed the national team head coach in May 2019, and has led the Lions in 20 matches, with a record of six wins, four draws and 10 losses.

The Straits Times said that Yoshida had been linked to a return to Japan, with his former club J.League 2 side Ventforet Kofu reportedly interested in having him back.

FAS said it will commence with the search for a permanent replacement for Tatsuma in January, so that preparations can commence for the Lions’ third and final round of qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, which is scheduled to take place in June next year.

“It is immensely disappointing to have Tatsuma leave the national team after seeing the amount of hard work and effort that he has put in, together with the backroom staff, to raise the standards," said FAS president Lim Kia Tong. 

"I obviously do not want to see him go, but I fully respect his decision to prioritise his family during these uncertain times and seek opportunities back home to be closer to them. On behalf of the Singapore football fraternity, I thank Tatsuma for all that he has done for us as well as for being a true professional and gentleman of the game.”

Lions forward Gabriel Quak also paid tribute to Yoshida, tweeting, "Three years ago, I still remember the first time we met, it was an instant click, thank you for believing in me, it was a pleasure working together."

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