AFC Men’s Coach of the Year: Takafumi Hori
Bangkok: Urawa Red Diamonds’ Head Coach Takafumi Hori was named the AFC Men’s Coach of the Year at the AFC Annual Awards 2017 in Bangkok on Wednesday, ahead of Australia’s Ange Postecoglou and compatriot Ishii Masatada.
Takafumi, who turned 50 in September, has coached the Urawa Reds since 2011 and under his leadership, they won the AFC Champions League 2017 on Sunday after beating Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal 2-1 on aggregate for a second continental title.
His journey with Urawa Red Diamonds in the AFC Champions League began in 2013, where they were drawn in Group F with Guangzhou Evergrande, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Muangthong United.
Their 2013 campaign ended early after finishing third in the group, when they were level with Jeonbuk at 10 points but missed out on a spot in the knockout phase on goal difference, .
The Reds returned to the continental premier tournament in 2015 but suffered a quick exit.
The following year, however, a better performance led them to a Round of 16 match-up with Korea Republic’s FC Seoul.
It was a nail-biting match that ended 3-3 on aggregate, pushing the game to penalties which Urawa eventually lost 7-6.
After that, they achieved domestic success, topping the J1 League 2nd Stage, earning them a berth in the AFC Champions League 2017 edition.
Winning Group F undefeated secured them a place in the Round of 16 against Jeju United. They bounced back from a 2-0 loss in the first leg to win 3-2 on aggregate.
Urawa Red Diamonds remained perfect after that to win a second AFC Champions League title, having first tasted glory in 2007.
"On behalf of Japan Football Association, I want to thank all our Asian fans. In our league, our local coaches are very inspired with this accolade," said Kozo Tashima, the President of Japan Football Association, on behalf of Hori.