Another Australian manager has conquered Japan, as Kevin Muscat led Yokohama F. Marinos to a J1 League title.
With the title race going down to the final day, Yokohama had fate in their own hands as they took on Vissel Kobe, who boast former Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta in their ranks.
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However goals from Elber, Takuma Nishimura and Teruhito Nakagawa ensured the celebrations would be in full flow for Muscat and his troops.
“It’s a little bit surreal. I’m just really proud. I think if there’s an overriding emotion, it’s pride; not only the result but the way we played. The way we won was tremendous,” Muscat said.
“For us personally, we’ve been focusing on creating moments – through challenges, creating moments – and today, the moment that we created also created history. These guys will go down in history as one group that won the trophy for Marinos.”
It’s a remarkable achievement for Muscat, who took over at the club in the wake of predecessor Ange Postecoglou’s departure to Celtic in July 2021.
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And the former Melbourne Victory defender’s achievement with the club comes just three years after Postecoglou did the same to end Yokohama’s 15-year wait for a J1 League title.
The league title is Muscat’s fifth as a manager, but this may perhaps be the sweetest after the unfortunate way his spell in Belgium with Saint-Truiden ended.
Yokohama were in prime position to wrap up the title in the latter stages of the season, but a brief skid in the form of two losses to Gamba Osaka and Jubilo Iwata threatened the unthinkable.
However, Muscat’s side rebounded in emphatic fashion against Urawa Red Diamonds last weekend to ensure fate would be in their hands and that second-placed Kawasaki Frontale would have to hope for plenty of cards to fall their way.
And the emphatic final day victory over Vissel Kobe ensured the party will go all night long in Yokhama, with Muscat the toast of the Australian football community.
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