Singapore, 16 December 2013: It has been less than a week since Fandi Ahmad took office in Jalan Besar as head coach of the LionsXII, and he has wasted little time in putting his backroom staff together.
Today, former national captain Nazri Nasir has joined the LionsXII to assist his former team-mate and coach Fandi for the coming Malaysia Super League season.
Nazri, 42, was elated to be, alongside Fandi, a part of the LionsXII setup next season. He said: “I am very happy. It’s like a dream to work with Fandi as a coach. I am grateful and want to show my heartfelt gratitude to FAS for giving me this opportunity. I’m still learning and want to give back to FAS what it has given me over the years.”
He added: “Despite the resource constraints, FAS is making good progress and will always look at ways to improve, and I’m happy to be part of this team.”
It is not the first time the two will be working on the same team. Nazri was captain of Singapore Armed Forces Football Club when Fandi was coach there from 2000-2002.
He said: “Even when Fandi was coach and I was playing at SAFFC, he treated me like a coach to the other players on the pitch. Fandi has a bundle of experience and I want to learn as much from him as possible.”
Nazri is no stranger to working with the FAS, having previously led the National Football Academy Under-15s to the Under-18 Centre of Excellence title earlier this year. He acknowledged, however, the different demands of coaching the LionsXII.
“It is a huge step-up, definitely. The LionsXII will be a different ball game. I hope to earn their respect rather than making them listen to me because of my authority as a coach,” said Nazri.
Nazri added he wants to foster closer personal relationships with the players. He said: “I want players to be serious in training, but I also hope there would be no barriers between coaches and players so that off the pitch, we are friends. I want them to feel good enough to talk to me about themselves and their families, not just about football.”
A part of the Singapore side that won the Malaysia League and Cup double in 1994, Nazri has a wealth of experience playing in Malaysia, information which will undoubtedly be useful as the season progresses.
He said: “Naturally, the game against Brunei in 1994 was the most memorable for me, as I scored the winning goal (a free-kick) to clinch the title for the team. I hope to do my part to share my playing experiences with the players and help them be mentally strong and prepared. Especially during away games, when the crowd are aggressive and starts chanting against them.”
As a midfielder in his playing days, Nazri, naturally, has high hopes on the LionsXII midfield. He said: “I’ve seen the squad and I think we have a good mixture of national team players and other young players. I hope to see the midfielders arriving late in the box to be more involved with the attack to provide more goals.”
Together with head coach Fandi Ahmad, Nazri is already looking forward to work with his colleagues and the senior management to uphold the professional standards, and continue the good work aimed at bringing Singapore football to the next level.