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Football: Moriyasu named AFC Coach of Year after World Cup success

Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu was named the Asian Football Confederation Coach of the Year for the first time on Tuesday after guiding his country to comeback wins over former champions Germany and Spain at the 2022 World Cup.

The Samurai Blue won a tough group in Qatar that also featured Costa Rica late last year before going out in the round of 16 on a penalty shootout to eventual semifinalists Croatia.

Hajime Moriyasu, head coach of the Japanese men’s national football team, attends a press conference at Noevir Stadium in the western Japan city of Kobe on Oct. 16, 2023, on the eve of an international friendly against Tunisia. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The 55-year-old Moriyasu subsequently became the first manager to retain the Japan top job following a World Cup since their tournament debut in 1998 in France.

Japan this year drew with Uruguay and lost to Colombia before winning the last six international friendlies the team played, including a 4-1 victory away to Germany on Sept. 9, notching 24 goals during that winning run.

Other Japanese winners were 20-year-old FC Tokyo midfielder Kuryu Matsuki, who was named the men’s Youth Player of the Year, while 19-year-old Chelsea attacker Maika Hamano won the women’s youth prize.

Saudi Arabia and Al Hilal forward Salem Al Dawsari won the men’s Player of the Year award and Chelsea and Australia forward Samantha Kerr took the women’s.

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