AFC Women’s Coach of the Year 2015: Asako Takakura
New Delhi: Asako Takakura has been named the AFC Women’s Coach of the Year for the fourth time in succession after guiding Japan to victory at the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship, claiming the 2015 accolade ahead of Nuengrutai Srathongvian, who oversaw Thailand’s impressive FIFA Women’s World Cup debut, and former national team keeper Gao Hong, head coach of the China side that finished third at the 2015 AFC U-16 Championship on home soil.
Takakura, who earned a hat-trick of AFC Women’s Coach of the Year awards for her sterling work with the Japanese U-16 women’s team and most recently with the side that won the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, led the under-19s to continental glory in China in August with many of the graduates from the team that excelled in Costa Rica last year.
The 47-year-old’s Young Nadeshiko progressed from the group stage in Nanjing with a 100% record following wins over Australia, Uzbekistan, and hosts China before edging Korea Republic 1-0 in the semi-finals to set up a title decider with DPR Korea. Narumi Miura scored the decisive spot-kick as Japan sealed a dramatic 4-2 penalty shootout victory over the North Koreans.
Commenting on her award, Takakua declared: “I just want to say thank you to my players, my staff and the Japan Football Association, and of course the Asian Football Confederation for the award.
“Japanese women footballers are trying to play well every game. We are always working to improve the mentality of the players and tactics from a young age.
“After the national team became world champions in 2011, all the young players aspire to reach the national team and play their best, and we’ll keep on developing them to help them reach that goal.”