• Kyodo


Sanfrecce Hiroshima coach Hajime Moriyasu has resigned to take responsibility for his side’s poor performance this season, the J. League first-division club said Tuesday.

Moriyasu, 48, offered to step down after Hiroshima’s 4-3 away defeat to Urawa Reds on Saturday and the club could not persuade him to stay, according to team president Hidekazu Orita. Head coach Akinobu Yokouchi, 49, will act as manager for the time being.

Sanfrecce sits in the relegation zone at 17th place out of 18 clubs in the J1 standings with just two wins against 11 losses and four draws so far this year.

“In the professional world, the results are all that matter. I apologize for not being able to bring about the results that everyone hoped for,” Moriyasu said in a statement.

Moriyasu took the helm at Sanfrecce in 2012 and led the team to J1 titles that year and in 2013 and 2015.

Former Japan defender Moriyasu took the helm at Sanfrecce in 2012 and led a team financially strapped year in, year out to the league title that season, as well as in 2013 and 2015.

After last season, Moriyasu, who has been tipped to coach Japan’s team for the 2020 Olympics, signed an extension that was to keep him in Hiroshima through 2018.

But the loss to Reds was Sanfrecce’s fourth in a row — its second four-game slide this year -— and Moriyasu felt it was time to go in the best interests of the club.

Orita regretted not being able to convince Moriyasu to stay.

“The manager is a legend to our team, and to have to accept his resignation was an extremely difficult decision and nothing short of disappointing,” Orita said.

Tuesday’s misery was compounded by the news that midfielder Mihail Mikic has been ruled out for a month with a right hamstring injury he suffered in the Urawa game.

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