Richard Bok, the most successful Singapore League (S-League) coach, is set to lead his country out at next week's Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (HBT).
Former Warriors FC coach Bok has been given a one-year contract with Singapore's national Under-21 team, with his first assignment the August 9-23 HBT hosted by Brunei. Bok masterminded four straight S-League titles for Warriors - formerly known as Singapore Armed Forces FC - from 2006 to 2010 and also won the Singapore Cup three times, but the regional Under-21 HBT tournament will be his first foray into the world of international football after leaving Warriors at the end of the 2012 season.
The island city-state has been grouped with Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia, and Bok already has a clear picture as to who will be on the plane to the Sultanate. "This is the team that was only formed this year to play in the Prime League and I took over only in May," Bok was quoted as saying in Singaporean sports media outlet VOXSPORTS yesterday.
"We got Singapore Cubs (national Under-21) and several LionsXII players such as Emmeric Ong, Samuel Benjamin and Ignatius Ang. "There is also Fuad Ramli, he is Faris Ramli's (LionsXII player) brother, and probably one from Home United.
"This will be the team that will be going to Brunei," added Bok, who won the S-League Coach of the Year award three times. Singapore only played one friendly match, a 2-0 win against the Philippines at the Yishun Stadium last Friday, leading up to the HBT - though Bok was suitably impressed with his charges' performance.
"It was a good showing especially in the first half... We were well organised," said Bok, who in 2009 helped Warriors become the first Singaporean club to qualify for the group stages of the AFC Champions League. "We played with a high tempo and we were quick on the counter."
"Second half, there were a few chances which affected the rhythm. "But then again, we were able to keep our score. It is a good warm up match for us," added Bok, who utilised all his players in the match.
Singapore meet Vietnam in their first match on August 9 before facing Cambodia on August 11 and Brunei on August 13.