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All quiet on the coaching front in Japan, but not in England

10 Apr 2006(Mon)

Tokyo, April 7, 2006: What have Japan and England got in common at the moment?

Well, with Zico and Sven-Goran Eriksson stepping down after the World Cup, both countries are looking for a new head coach.

And while the English papers are full of stories, almost on a daily basis, about the Swede's successor, it's pretty quiet over here in Japan.

So here's a bit of gossip I've picked up in recent weeks from a variety of sources, all of them on the inside of the game rather than the outside.

The latest I heard is that JFA President Saburo Kawabuchi is leaning towards appointing a Japanese head coach, and that his favourite is Akira Nishino.

The Atlanta Olympic team coach has a strong case, with Gamba winning the championship last season. Also, if the JFA wants a coach to look after the Olympic team and the national team, then it makes sense to appoint someone who knows the quality of the players available at various age levels.

In fact, with the Asian Cup in 2007 and the Beijing Olympics in 2008, a Japanese head coach, appointed on a two-year contract after the World Cup, looks like a logical move. In addition to this, if a leading coach from overseas is not available to come to Japan in 2006 (Wenger, for example), then why waste money on someone who knows nothing about Japan and who would be starting from zero?

Anyway, this was the latest I heard, that Nishino seemed to be favoured by Kawabuchi.

Regarding overseas coaches, the former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier is known to be admired by the technical people inside the JFA, but it's highly unlikely he would leave Lyon so soon.

Another name was that of former Antlers manager Toninho Cerezo, who left Kashima with a very high reputation at the end of last season, but who has since taken a job in Brazil. That's not a problem, though, as managers change clubs on a regular basis in Brazil, but compensation to the Brazilian club from the JFA would be an issue.

Many people seem to think that Sorimachi, the former Albirex manager, will take over the Olympic team's preparations. If this is true, it would mean that Japan would need a head coach for the senior team, maybe even on a one-year contract through to the 2007 Asian Cup. Who could that be? Osim, maybe? Or Nishino? Or Okada?

By all accounts, the JFA technical committee is compiling a list of candidates to present to Kawabuchi by the end of this month.

Maybe then the intense speculation will begin in the media, like it is already in England.


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