The Lions pulled off a 3-1 win against Chinese Taipei on 12 September at the Bishan Stadium amid swirling rumours about the future of Singapore men’s football national head coach Takayuki Nishigaya.
The win was not exactly against the odds actually.
With only slightly more than 2,000 fans present at the neighbourhood stadium, Song Uiyoung, Lionel Tan and Shawal Anuar contributed to Singapore’s goals, and the Lions first victory since a win over Macau in March.
But will Nishigaya stay on as national head coach, given that he has not been able to lift the Lions since arriving in April 2022?
With Singapore’s upcoming Asian Cup and World Cup double-bill qualifying matches against Guam upcoming in October, any thoughts and ideas that he may have turned a corner just because of a win over Chinese Taipei would be misguided.
Information, from multiple sources, filtering out of the Football Association of Singapore’s (FAS) Jalan Besar Stadium headquarters appears to suggest that his days as Lions head coach could well be numbered, with the Japan Football Association also aware that a farewell may possibly be on the cards.
In his post match media conference, Nishigaya was said to cut a forlorn figure, and was not his usual self, The Straits Times revealed in its post match report.
“I believe everyone who works in the football environment here is dedicated and has sacrificed as we work to develop Singapore football,” said Nishigaya.
“Everyone has to take responsibility, and I hope everyone can cheer for the team and encourage the players to move to the next level.”
It is unsure what Nishigaya is suggesting.
How are fans supposed to take responsibility for his professional inexperience and inability to lift the Lions?
Shouldn’t he be taking responsibility for the team’s failures?
Lions defender Tan, who scored his third international goal in six matches, tried to relieve the pressure on Nishigaya.
“The coaches can do only so much,” the 26-year-old told The Straits Times.
“During the game, it’s about how hungry we players are to carry out the tactics, so the pressure should also be on us.”
With a pair of crucial matches against Guam happening in a month’s time, all eyes will be on what is the next step to be taken by the national football body.
How they act will illustrate how seriously they take the future of the national team, and the careers of Singapore’s Lions.
MAIN PHOTO: GETTY