The FA of Singapore (FAS) have announced that by mutual agreement, national coach Tatsuma Yoshida will be leaving the organisation on 31 December 2021 in order to return home to Japan and be with his family during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The 47-year old Japanese tactician was first appointed to the position in June 2019. He started his coaching journey in Japan as Kashiwa Reysol’s youth team coach (2003 – 2010) before he was appointed the club’s sports director (2011 – 2014).
Tatsuma took up his first head coach position with Reysol in 2015 before moving to Albirex Niigata and Ventforet Kofu.
Tatsuma began his tenure as Lions’ Head Coach with a 4-3 win against the Solomon Islands in an international friendly.
The Chiba native’s final game in charge was a heart-breaking 4-2 extra-time loss in the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 semi-finals, in which he called the performance by the players as ‘the best he had seen’, since taking over the reins.
Since taking charge in June 2019, Tatsuma was ably supported by a predominantly local backroom coaching team, including Singapore U23 coach Nazri Nasir and Noh Rahman and FAS President Lim Kia Tong said the coaching team will continue Tatsuma’s good work.
Paying tribute to Tatsuma’s contributions to Singapore, Kim Tong said “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 set by our national team. He was able to instil in the players, his football philosophy of playing more aggressive, faster flowing football, which is in line with the demands of the modern game. The Singapore fans saw the resulting effect in the quality of the team’s performances and they have started to once again believe in the team’s ability to vie amongst the region’s best. In the space of over two years, Tatsuma has established a close bond with the players, coaching staff and Singapore fans. 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.”
Tatsuma was poignant as he commented on the difficult decision that he had to make.
“This was not an easy decision for me to arrive to and 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. The FAS have been incredibly supportive throughout my time here and I would like to thank President Lim Kia Tong and General Secretary Yazeen Buhari for their leadership, guidance and understanding throughout the trying times. 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 success. 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.”
The FAS will commence with the search for a replacement for Tatsuma in January 2022 so that preparations can commence for the Lions’ third and final round of qualification for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup China 2023TM scheduled to take place in June 2022.