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Japan welcomes Zaccheroni as new football coach

31 August 2010 09:09

TOKYO (AFP) - Alberto Zaccheroni's appointment as Japan coach was welcomed by local media who said Tuesday his attack-minded style could help the Blue Samurai build on progress made at the last World Cup.

But they also expressed concern that the 57-year-old Italian -- a former AC Milan coach -- lacked experience abroad or at international level and had enjoyed little major success in the past decade.

The Japan Football Association (JFA) on Monday named Zaccheroni, who won the 1998-99 Serie A title with Milan, to succeed Japanese Takeshi Okada, who guided the team to the last-16 round at this summer's World Cup.

The infuential Asahi Shimbun daily labelled Zaccheroni, famous for his tactic of fielding three strikers up front, as an "offensive type" of coach "who knows global standards".

But the newspaper added: "It can be said that his skills for guiding the Japanese national team are unknown."

"He hasn't produced results in the past 10 years and is called a past great general," the Sports Hochi noted, adding that "it is unknown how he would cope with the culture and language barriers".

Zaccheroni, the sixth foreigner to manage Japan and the first Italian, follows in the footsteps of Brazilian legends Zico and Falcao, as well as Frenchman Philippe Troussier, known for his success with African club sides before his appointment in 1998.

Zaccheroni was due to be presented to the local media at a press conference later Tuesday.

He has coached a dozen Italian sides, also including Lazio and Inter Milan, since the age of 30, and took over struggling Juventus last January. The Turin side finished the season seventh.

The JFA has been looking for a new coach who could push Japan "one rank higher" at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

In South Africa, Okada's Japan upset Cameroon and Denmark and narrowly lost to the Netherlands to reach the World Cup knockout stage for the first time on foreign soil.

With a highly organised defence but lacking solid offensive tactics, they lost to Paraguay on penalties after a goalless draw in 120 minutes in the last-16.

The JFA had failed to sign Chilean Manuel Pellegrini, who was sacked as Real Madrid manager in May, and Spaniard Ernesto Valverde, who commited to Greek side Olympiakos.

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

Zaccheroni has reportedly agreed a two-year contract worth 200 million yen (2.35 million dollars) a year with a two-year option.

The Nikkei business daily saw little risk of the Italian going back to European clubs with handsome deals in the middle of his tenure.

"New challenges in his first overseas job and his first assignment as a national coach may well fire him up," it said.

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