KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 – After making a name for themselves with Kuching City FC in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak, coach Akira Higashiyama and midfield player Yuki Tanigawa will now ply their football trade in the East Coast state of Kelantan.
Thanks to their sponsors “Yakult” the duo were unknown but they did enough for Kuching City FC to take the debutants to fourth place in the Premier League and a place in the prestigious Malaysia Cup, will don Kelantan United FC (KUFC) colors next season.
KUFC and Yakult (M) Sdn Bhd signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Kota Bharu on Dec 6 with Akira, 31, appointed as the head coach while Yuki will be an asset in the team’s match plans and strategies.
Akira, although young in age, has a wealth of experience having coached clubs in Mongolia and New Zealand before heading to Malaysia.
He achieved considerable success with Kuching City – described as a rookie team in the second-tier Malaysian League.
Kuching City FC did well against the big names in the Premier League – finishing in fourth place with 16 points – behind champions Penang (26 points), second-placed Terengganu 2 (22 points) and third-placed Kuala Lumpur with 21 points.
KUFC supremo, Datuk Che Abdullah Mat Nawi is thrilled with the arrival of the Japanese duo and hopes to add more strength to the team before the 2021 season gets underway in February.
Yakult is a Japanese sweetened probiotic milk beverage which is a hit Malaysia. Yakult Malaysia is deeply involved in Malaysian sports.
After the creditable fourth place finish in the Premier League, Kuching did well in the first round Malaysia Cup match against defending champions and seven-time Super League champions Johor Darul Takzim before bowing out with a 1-0 defeat.
KUFC finished in sixth place in the Premier League and lost 4-0 to Perak in Ipoh in a first round Malaysia Cup match.