Defending S.League champions Albirex Niigata's newly-appointed head coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga said he is determined to replicate last season's success with his new team in 2017.
The White Swans became the first ever Singapore club to win a quadruple last season by winning the league Cup, Community Shield and the Singapore Cup along with the S.League title under Naoki Naruo. Deservedly, the team dominated the S.League Awards Night, in which Naruo along with Atsushi Kawata won the top honours.
Albirex have completely changed their title-winning set up and have let go off some of their key players including Kawata and Tatsuro Inui, defenders Atsushi Shirota and Kento Fujihara. Coach Naruo also decided to step down last year leaving a big void, that is hard to be filled after his dream season.
Yoshinaga though is an established coach and has worked with top-tier J.League sides in the past. The 48-year-old also played a key role in helping an 18-year-old Shinji Okazaki, who is now plying his trade with Leicester City, during the former's stint with J.League side Shimizu S-Pulse in 2005/06, according to The New Paper.
The Japanese tactician conceded that he is under pressure as he will be expected to emulate Naruo's feat but maintained that he is ready for the challenge.
"If I said there was no pressure, I would be lying. But then again, there is pressure in every job. It is about how you manage it and turn it into something positive," Yoshinaga said, as quoted by the news daily.
"Albirex won every title last year, so of course, we cannot go backwards. In addition, we will look to make a good impression with the type of football we play, so that fans will want to come and see us.
"I only spoke to Naruo in general, and didn't ask too many questions in detail, because I did not want to have any pre-conceived ideas about what to expect. I wanted to come here with an open mind.
"Anyway, in terms of how we have to play, whether it is possession-based or attacking football, to me, the first objective is to win."