Soccer

JFA backs Zaccheroni despite recent losses

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TOKYO (AP)

The Japan Football Association has no plans to make any changes even though coach Alberto Zaccheroni has come under criticism for the team's recent lackluster play.

Japan has conceded 22 goals over the last nine matches, including a 2-0 loss to Serbia on Friday and 1-0 defeat to Belarus on Tuesday, leading to speculation that Zaccheroni's job may be in danger.

''It is a fact that (the team) did not play well but we are not going to change our way of thinking on the basis of two matches,'' JFA technical director Hiromi Hara said Thursday.

Since being hired in 2010, Zaccheroni has enjoyed a mostly successful run that included winning the Asian Cup and a comfortable qualifying campaign to the 2014 World Cup.

Zaccheroni has emphasized the need for his team to play well outside of Asia where it has dominated over the years. The team's next match will be against the Netherlands in Belgium on Nov. 16.

''We still cannot play our own football outside Asia, and that is my responsibility,'' Zaccheroni said. ''I must analyze why there is such a big difference between the two.''

JFA President Kuniya Daini also backed Zaccheroni.

''It's not as though the recent results were a total disaster,'' Daini said. ''We need to find out exactly what is wrong and deal with it.''

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