Hajime Moriyasu has been named AFC Men’s Coach of the Year in recognition of the phenomenal year he had leading the Japan National Team.
Moriyasu led the Samurai Blue to a terrific 2022 FIFA World Cup, upending former world champions Spain and Germany to advance out of their group. In the round of 16, only penalty kicks could stop Japan as Croatia knocked them out of the tournament, but they had already made history as the first Samurai Blue side to qualify for the knockout stages in consecutive World Cups.
Japan continued their fine play in 2023, going 6-1-1 in eight matches so far this year. They are currently riding a six-match win streak, which is especially impressive considering they have beaten Germany, Peru, Turkey, Canada, Tunisia and El Salvador by a combined score of 24-5. They have been simply marvelous.
Moriyasu has done this with a team made up entirely of players who currently play in the Meiji Yasuda J.League or got their professional start in the domestic competition. He knows the quality in the league too, having played in the J.League’s inaugural season and all the way until he retired in 2003. He then moved into management, leading Sanfrecce Hiroshima to the Meiji Yasuda J1 League title in 2012, 2013 and 2015.