7/26/2018 3:38:25 PM

Olympic boss Moriyasu appointed as Japan national football coach

Olympic boss Moriyasu appointed as Japan national football coach

Tokyo, Japan: Japan named Olympic coach Hajime Moriyasu as their new national football boss on Thursday.

The 49-year-old replaces Akira Nishino, who led the Blue Samurai to the last 16 of the World Cup in Russia in his two-month spell as caretaker coach.

Former Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann had been linked to the job, along with ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, but the Japan Football Association (JFA) went for a trusted insider.

Moriyasu, who will also maintain his current assignment as the coach for Japan's under-21 team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, pledged to bring new blood to the top national side.

"There will be generational changes. There will be integration of various generations of players," he told a press conference.

Moriyasu was drafted in as an assistant to Nishino ahead of the World Cup after JFA chief Kozo Tashima abruptly fired Franco-Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic in April following a poor run of form. 

Japan went on to reach the World Cup knockout stage for the first time since 2010.

Moriyasu, a former Japan international midfielder, steered Sanfrecce Hiroshima to three J-League titles between 2012 and 2015.

Japan have had mixed results under foreign coaches since Dutchman Hans Ooft became the country's first non-Japanese boss in 1992.

Frenchman Philippe Troussier led Japan to the last 16 as co-hosts of the 2002 World Cup.

But Brazilian legend Zico frittered away the talents of a so-called "golden generation" of players such as Hidetoshi Nakata and Shunsuke Nakamura in an anemic performance at the 2006 finals.

His successors have fared little better and Japan appeared rudderless heading into this summer's World Cup until Tashima's controversial decision to axe Halilhodzic.

Japan were knocked out in the last 16 after losing 3-2 to Belgium, having squandered a two-goal lead.

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