TOKYO (AFP) ― Japan turned their attention Thursday to the hunt for a new national football coach after Alberto Zaccheroni resigned in the wake of a winless World Cup, with former Mexico and Espanyol manager Javier Aguirre seen in the frame.
The Japan Football Association has offered the Mexican veteran, who led his nation to the last-16 twice in 2002 and 2010, a four-year deal with an annual wage of 1.5 million euros ($2 million), the Nikkan Sports daily reported.
Japan went to Brazil brimful of confidence after an easy qualifying campaign, with predictions they would reach the quarterfinals and even a suggestion from talismanic playmaker Keisuke Honda that the Blue Samurai could lift the trophy.
But the four-time Asian champions never really fired, and their best result was a spiritless 0-0 draw against Greece.
Less than 24 hours after a 4-1 walloping by Colombia, Zaccheroni fell on his sword, bringing down the curtain on a four-year reign which followed his years of piloting various Serie-A sides including AC Milan.
The Sports Nippon online edition said despite the failure in Brazil, the team needs to stick to the path the Italian tactician put them on, emphasizing speed and intensity, and is looking for a successor with a similar style.
Aguirre, 55, has a long career coaching in Europe, particularly in Spain, directing clubs such as Osasuna and Atletico Madrid. He quit as Espanyol manager last month.
The daily said that JFA technical director Hiromi Hara, charged with handpicking the successor, “worships the soccer in Spain, which makes Aguirre a perfect candidate.”
The Daily Sports Online, meanwhile, reported Japan has already approached Jose Pekerman, the coach of Colombia’s national team, who handed the team their drubbing on Tuesday in Cuiaba.
Former Yugoslavia and Red Star Belgrade captain Dragan Stojkovic, who coached J-League side Nagoya Grampus from 2008-2013, has told Serbian media that he has been offered a managerial job by Japan and Red Star, according to the tabloid Nikkan Gendai.