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Japan name Zaccheroni as new coach

30 August 2010 12:09

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan on Monday ended a two-month global hunt by naming Italian Alberto Zaccheroni as their new national coach following their best-ever World Cup on foreign soil.

The former AC Milan and Juventus coach will be officially unveiled on Tuesday.

"The national coach has been finally decided," Japan Football Association (JFA) vice-president Kuniya Daini told reporters as he announced the appointment without giving details, including the length of the contract.

Japan's Kyodo news agency, citing Italian media, reported that Zaccheroni had agreed a two-year contract worth 2.36 million dollars with a two-year option.

The association said it would hold a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday with the 57-year-old Zaccheroni, the sixth foreigner and first Italian to manage Japan, the three-time Asian champions.

Zaccheroni, who won the 1998-99 Serie A title with AC Milan, replaces Takeshi Okada, who guided the Blue Samurai to the World Cup last-16 in South Africa but left after the tournament.

Three foreigners -- Philippe Troussier, Zico and Ivica Osim -- have coached Japan after Okada led Japan to a winless World Cup debut in 1998 in his first stint as national coach.

Unable to obtain a work visa in time, Zaccheroni is expected to watch from the stands for Japan's first post-World Cup international match -- against Paraguay in Yokohama on Saturday.

It was Paraguay who sent Japan packing from South Africa after a penalty shoot-out on June 30. They face Guatemala in another home friendly in Osaka three days later.

Zaccheroni, famous for his attacking style with three forwards, has been coaching Italian sides since the age of 30 and took over struggling Juventus last January on a four-month contract. The Turin side finished the season seventh.

The Italian's first major task will be the Asian Cup in January in Qatar in which Japan hope to regain the title.

Japan have struggled to replace Okada with a big name.

JFA technical director Hiromi Hara said last week Chilean Manuel Pellegrini, who was sacked as Real Madrid manager in May, and Spaniard Ernesto Valverde had turned down offers. Valverde instead re-signed with Greek side Olympiakos.

Former FC Porto coach Victor Fernandez and former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre were also mentioned as possible candidates in media.

"I have realised anew that Japan is in the Far East," JFA president Junji Ogura said at one point about the challenge of luring coaches away from offers from European clubs and settling their families in Japan.

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