Singapore Football

Kazuaki Yoshinaga eyes SPL title after reappointment as Albirex coach

Former Singapore Premier League (SPL) champions Albirex Niigata have signalled their intention to recapture their glory days with the reappointment of Kazuaki Yoshinaga as their coach yesterday.

The 53-year-old, who previously helmed the White Swans in 2017 and 2018, has pledged to help them regain the SPL title, after they finished as runners-up behind the big-spending Lion City Sailors this year.

Yoshinaga said on the club website that his goal is to "get the title back" and have a team which strives to win the title and lives daily to realise this target.

Under the Japanese, the 2018 Albirex side became the first team to win the SPL title without losing a game. Their record was 21 wins and three draws.

Not surprisingly, he was named the SPL Coach of the Year in 2018 for a second year running.

He joined Albirex's J-League outfit in 2019, handing over the reins of the Singapore-based side to Keiji Shigetomi, before returning as their technical director this year.

Yoshinaga's appointment comes after another coaching change in the SPL.

Former Tampines Rovers coach Akbar Nawas was unveiled last Friday as the new coach of Balestier Khalsa, who finished second from bottom in the eight-team league this year.

The Singaporean, who led Indian club Chennai City to the I-League title in 2018/19, replaces long-serving coach Marko Kraljevic.

Meanwhile, the Sailors have announced the departure of their top striker Stipe Plazibat, who scored 23 goals in 25 appearances across two seasons.

The 32-year-old Croat, who won the SPL's Golden Boot award last year, said on the Sailors' website: "My next move depends on what opportunities I receive, and most probably that will come from abroad.

"But never say never - I may still stay in Singapore yet."

Tanjong Pagar United, who finished a creditable fifth in this year's SPL, have also parted ways with midfielder Blake Ricciuto. The Australian announced on his Instagram page that he would not be renewing his contract due to personal reasons.

Singapore Football