Albirex coach leaves as one-year contract ends

Naoki Naruo led Albirex to a record four trophies this season, including their maiden S-League title. They also won the Singapore Cup, League Cup and the Community Shield.
Naoki Naruo led Albirex to a record four trophies this season, including their maiden S-League title. They also won the Singapore Cup, League Cup and the Community Shield.

Naoki Naruo, who on Tuesday was crowned S-League Coach of the Year, has left league champions Albirex Niigata.

The 42-year-old led the Japanese club to an unprecedented four trophies this season. They won the S-League, Singapore Cup, League Cup and the Community Shield.

Albirex vice-chairman and general manager Koh Mui Tee said the Iwate native wants to return to Japan to spend time with his family.

A post on the club's website said Naruo is leaving "upon completion of his contract". In the same post, Naruo, who was in charge of Albirex for a year in 2009, said: "When I was approached in December last year to be the head coach again, I looked at the recent history of the club. It was apparent to me that the target was to win the league title, which has been eluded the club.

"It was a very clear objective and an attractive proposition... I told myself that I cannot afford to fail again at this second bite at the cherry.

"I want to thank my players and coaches, office staff who believed in my methods. I also want to thank the sponsors and supporters for the fervent support we received."

Yesterday, the White Swans also announced a new outreach programme. From next year, they plan to have two school footballers from Yuhua constituency attached to Albirex's parent club in Niigata each year for week-long training.

Chua Siang Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2016, with the headline 'Albirex coach leaves as one-year contract ends'. Print Edition | Subscribe