White Swans’ Naruo Wins RHB Coach Of The Year Award
Written by: Darren Ho
Albirex Niigata (S) coach Naoki Naruo won the RHB Coach of the Year accolade after leading the White Swans to an unprecedented quadruple, winning the Great Eastern Community Shield, Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League, The New Paper League Cup and the RHB Singapore Cup in the 2016 campaign.
Naruo was honoured at the S.League Awards Night in Marina Bay Sands on Tuesday, beating off competition from 2015 winner and Brunei DPMM’s coach Steve Kean, and former Hougang United’s coach K.Balagumaran.
Delighted with his achievements, Naruo expressed, “I’m very happy with the award because we have achieved the target of winning all four trophies this season.”
“We approached every match to play better and we try to improve the players match by match and make them work as a team so that we can defend well and win.”
When quizzed on whether he would prefer winning the team trophies or Coach of the Year award more, the former Japanese international articulated that, “Of course winning the four titles is more important because it is only by winning all trophies, that I could win this award tonight.”
Naruo has been highly credited for rebuilding a new-look Albirex squad following the departures of 2015 Player of the Year Fumiya Kogure and other talents who were a catalyst in the White Swan’s domestic double in 2015.
Despite changes to his squad for 2016, the 42-year-old coach was pivotal in bringing out the best in the likes of Great Eastern Player of the Year Atsushi Kawata and Yeo’s Young Player of the Year nominee Naofumi Tanaka.
While Naruo declined to speak about his plans for next year, he has affirmed that, “What I wanted to accomplish this year is to show our players’ ability. By showing our players ability, we portray to others that we can play against any opponents.
“Overall, we are all very happy for this season. I will keep doing my best to continue being the best coach in the S.League.”