TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's new coach Alberto Zaccheroni Friday joined a team of "ambassadors" promoting the country's bid to host the 2022 World Cup, just four days after his appointment.
"I've always had a lot of respect for Japan as a country," the 57-year-old Italian, who won the 1998-1999 Serie-A title with AC Milan, said in a statement. "Let's all do our best to bring the World Cup to Japan."
The bid committee said it was delighted to have Zaccheroni, who has coached a dozen Italian clubs, citing his "wealth of experience at European football's highest levels."
Asian neighbours Japan and South Korea co-hosted the 2002 World Cup which, Zaccheroni said, was "a fantastic tournament" where "the level of organisation and the passion of the fans were quite exceptional."
"That's the reason I'm confident that a World Cup hosted by Japan in 2022 would be something really and truly special," said Zaccheron, the sixth foreigner and the first Italian to manage Japan, former Asian champions.
Football's world governing body FIFA will choose the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on December 2 in Zurich.
The candidates are South Korea, Australia, Russia, England, the United States and Qatar as well as joint bidders, Netherlands-Belgium and Spain-Portugal.
Japan, South Korea, Australia and Qatar, all members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), have submitted bids for 2022 only, while the others are campaigning for both -- amid growing expectations Europe will get the 2018 edition after Brazil in 2014.
Zaccheroni will be the 32nd "bid ambassador" for Japan.
Other ambassadors included some of his predecessors and current and former national team players. Former Japan coaches on the bid team are his immediate predecessor, Takeshi Okada of Japan, as well as Brazilian legend Zico, Bosnian tactician Ivica Osim and Frenchman Philippe Troussier.
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