Albirex title-winning coach Naruo to leave S.League

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Albirex Niigata (S) head coach Naoki Naruo will not be around to guide the White Swans next season after the club confirmed that he will be leaving once his contract expires. 

Naruo was most recently crowned the S.League Coach of the Year 2016 after leading Albirex to an unprecedented quadruple and clean sweep of all the major trophies in the S.League.

By doing so, Naruo helped the White Swans to end their 12-year wait for a S.League title. This was the head coach’s second stint in charge, after leading Albirex to a seventh-place finish in 2009.

I told myself that I cannot afford to fail again at this second bite at the cherry, thus I made a commitment to myself that I will take up this challenge to win the league title as a head coach for only one year, as a do-or-die mission for my coaching career

The Japanese made his decision after believing he has met his objectives when he first accepted Albirex’s approach to manage the club.

“This season has been an extremely fruitful year for Albirex Niigata FC (Singapore),” Naruo said via a statement on the club’s Facebook page.

“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 elusive to the club. It was a very clear objective and an attractive proposition for me.

“I told myself that I cannot afford to fail again at this second bite at the cherry, thus I made a commitment to myself that I will take up this challenge to win the league title as a head coach for only one year, as a do-or-die mission for my coaching career.”

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Albirex retained their Singapore Cup against Tampines this year

Naruo will be returning to Japan once his contract expires at the end of November and he extended his gratitude to Albirex for granting him the opportunity to lead them.

“The Club took 13 years to get to where it wants to be, that is, at the top. There were many pains and tribulations to get to the top,” he added.

“I was lucky enough to be the person who help to make the final push up the peak. I want to thank my players and coaches, office staff who believed in my methods.

“While I work hard in my new venture, i will remind myself of the many fond memories of this country.”

Photos: Weixiang Lim/FFT