Thursday, 14 January 2010

Saito Sensation / Yoshiyuki Deal

Legendary Ardija midfield player Masato Saito has confirmed his retirement as a player, having accepted a position as a coach to the Squirrels U12s. Saito, famously an NTT employee throughout his playing career and thus technically an amateur, joined Omiya for the club's last-ever season as a non-league club - 1998, when Ardija played in the JFL a year before becoming founder members of the new J2. 2004 proved to be Saito's most successful season, when he racked up 43 appearances and thus played a major part in securing the Squirrels' promotion to J1. Since then he has been more of a fringe player, but even so has more than 100 top flight matches to his name. Saito now joins fellow ex-first teamers Seiichiro Okuno and Naoto Sakurai among the ranks of the U12 coaching staff.

Meanwhile former Omiya captain Yoshiyuki Kobayashi has signed a deal with Albirex Niigata. Kobayashi was released at the end of 2009, most of which was spent loaned to Kashiwa Reysol after it became clear that the skipper had no place in the first team plans of coach Jang Wae Ryong. Now almost 32, Kobayashi becomes the third person to move from Ardija to Niigata this close-season, following reserve keeper Takahiro Takagi and goalkeeping coach Atsushi Shirai.



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