FAS technical director joins Australian club a day after quitting for health, personal reasons

·3 min read
Joseph Palatsides (centre) when he was announced as FAS technical director in April 2019, flanked by FAS general secretary Yazeen Buhari (left) and FAS president Lim Kia Tong.
Joseph Palatsides (centre) when he was announced as FAS technical director on 2 May 2019, flanked by FAS general secretary Yazeen Buhari (left) and FAS president Lim Kia Tong. (FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — On Tuesday (9 November), Joseph Palatsides cited "health and personal reasons" brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic for deciding to quit his Football Association of Singapore (FAS) technical director post, just five months after extending his contract until 2023.

On Wednesday, however, the 56-year-old Australian was pictured in a Facebook post by Australian Professional League side Melbourne Victory, announcing him as their new head of academy coaching, overseeing all coaching across their youth academy.

Palatsides has been in Australia since August, when he took leave to go back home.

Palatsides joined FAS in April 2019, taking over Belgian Michel Sablon, who stepped down in December 2018 after being tasked in 2015 to put in place a youth development structure for Singapore football.

He had said then that Singapore football is a "sleeping giant", and that he hoped to infuse the country's culture of excellence into the sport.

FAS said in a media release on Tuesday that during Palatsides' tenure, he held open trials for age-group players to assess potential talents and widen the pool of youth players. Under him, the FAS technical department has also reviewed and revamped existing curriculum to educate coaches on best practices in the modern game.

Prior to his FAS appointment, Palatsides was head of the youth academy of another A-League club, Melbourne City. As their National Youth League (NYL) coach, he led their youth team to NYL titles in 2015 and 2017.

Technical director post set up in 1999

The FAS technical director post was first set up in 1999 and initially titled "Goal 2010 project director". The director's role was to develop a blueprint for football development as Singapore attempted to qualify for the 2010 Fifa World Cup Finals. 

Denmark's Jan Poulsen was the first person in the post, but he also took on the national head coach role after Vincent Subramaniam was sacked in 2001. Poulsen himself was sacked in 2002 after a poor Tiger Cup campaign by the Lions, which included a 0-4 home thrashing by arch-rivals Malaysia.

Following Poulsen's departure, there have been three more technical directors before Palatsides - former Lions coach PN Sivaji, Serbia's Slobodan Pavkovic and Sablon. Of the five men, Palatsides had the shortest tenure, while Pavkovic lasted the longest with a six-year stint. 

Arguably, Sablon provided the most concrete structure for football development in Singapore. The Belgian - who was credited with helping his country produce world-class talents such as Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne - outlined a comprehensive plan to improve 11 main areas of Singapore football and develop a fast-passing, offensive style of play for all national sides.

Young Lions head coach Philippe Aw will assume the role of interim technical director while FAS commences the search for a permanent replacement. 

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