Japan’s Olympic football coach Hajime Moriyasu was named as the new manager of the men’s senior team, the Japan Football Association (JFA) announced on Thursday.
This move comes after Akira Nishino, who led the Blue Samurais to the last 16 at the World Cup in Russia, stepped down from the role earlier this month.
Moriyasu’s first task as Japan’s tactician will be preparing the team for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in January.
For this competition, the Blue Samurais have been drawn in Group F alongside Uzbekistan, Oman and Turkmenistan.
Unclear if Moriyasu will continue in charge of Olympic team
The 49-year-old coach played 35 times for Japan back in the 90’s. He featured in the famous 1994 World Cup qualifier against Iraq, an encounter known as the ‘Agony of Doha’, in which the Blue Samurais failed to reach the tournament in the United States following a last-minute equalizer by Jaffar Omran. South Korea qualified instead.
As a coach, Moriyasu guided Sanfreece Hiroshima to three J. League titles between 2012 and 2015 before resigning in 2017.
It is still unclear if he will also remain in charge of the Olympic team for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, however, at a press conference on Thursday, the new Japan tactician said coaching both teams is a possibility.
‘Being the Olympic manager is such a great honor and a heavy responsibility. Being in charge of the national team takes that from heavy to ultra-heavy, and i wondered if I was up to it,’ Moriyasu said.
‘In the end, doing both can open the door to rejuvenating not just the national team but the world of Japanese football. For one person this is impossible. But as I considered the JFA’s zeal in supporting me and understanding the kind of help I could draw on, I was at last able to get my head around it.’
Wenger was also considered for the Japan role
According to a report by the DailMail last week, the JFA considered former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger for the position.
The Frenchman, who managed Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight before taking over the reins of Arsenal, is highly respected and regarded in the Asian country, as he has always spoken of how he enjoyed his life there.
However, after Moriyasu’s appointment, the JFA asserted its days of reliance on foreign managers was over.