Singaporean Akbar Nawas will become the country’s first to ever lead a team in Thailand’s top tier football league as a full-time appointed head coach.
On 5 June, Thai League 1 side Nakhonpathom United announced the 47-year-old as their head honcho, allowing Akbar the accolade of being the first Singaporean to lead a Thai football club in the top tier.
Nakhonpathom earned their promotion to the Thai League 1, after ending the 2022/2023 season as champions of the Thai League 2.
It marks the first time in 14 years that the club will be challenging for honours in the top tier of Thai football.
“It is definitely an honour as a Singaporean to lead a Thai League 1 side and i am very much appreciative for the trust that my new club has put in me,” Akbar told TMSG.
Other Singaporeans who have blazed a trail in Thailand in the past include Robert Lim, who was a technical director at Chiangmai FC, Firdaus Kassim who was an assistant head coach at Chainat FC in 2016, and Kadir Yahaya who is currently head of youth football at BG Pathum.
Akbar’s latest move to head up Nakhonpathom is symptomatic of the coaching brain drain away from Singapore.
Among the coaches who are currently earning their keeps outside of Singapore include V Sundram Moorthy (Laos), Aidil Sharin Sahak (Persikabo), Fandi Ahmad (Pahang) and Kadir Yahaya (BG Pathum United).
AKBAR NAWAS’ JOURNEY SO FAR
Akbar was a championship winner in the Indian league, having lifted the trophy with Chennai City in 2019.
He was then named the I-League’s best coach that year.
Upon his return He also took on a short-lived stint as Balestier Khalsa’s head coach at the end of 2021 which lasted about eight months.
He quit the club in August 2022, and took on a role with Thai second tier side Udon Thani as a technical director, and was subsequently made the team coach midway through the 2022/2023 season.
Udon finished the season at the bottom of the league.
But despite that, the club from Thailand’s second tier which got promoted to the Thai League 1 decided to give Akbar a chance with leading the team.
Akbar added that he will be on the lookout for Singaporean players to bring across to Thailand, given that he now has an opportunity in the Thai League 1, and is relishing the challenge ahead.
“It is going to be a tough task for sure, as most of my players whom are from league 2 will ply their trade now in T1, but that does mean they wont be competitive.
“I’m sure they would want to better themselves against teams like BG Pathum.”
MAIN PHOTOS: NAKHONPATHOM UNITED