Zaccheroni ready to make his mark in Japan

Alberto Zaccheroni wants to create his own version of
samurai-style football when he takes over as coach of Japan.

The former Juventus and AC Milan coach was introduced to the
Japanese media on Tuesday, a day after the Japan Football
Association hired him as the first Italian and the sixth foreigner
to guide the national team.

”By the time this adventure is over, I want to create a lot of
great memories and to show the fans Zaccheroni football, Zaccheroni
samurai,” the 57-year-old Italian told a news conference.

Zaccheroni takes over from Takeshi Okada, who quit after taking
the Japan team, known locally as the ”Blue Samurai,” to the
second round of the World Cup, where it lost on penalties to
Paraguay.

Zaccheroni, who won the 1999 Serie A title with Milan, said he
was impressed with Japan’s performance in South Africa.

”I saw at the World Cup that Japan is very consistent,”
Zaccheroni said in comments translated from Italian to Japanese.
”The team proved they are able to play at a World level and Okada
did a very good job.”

Zaccheroni has more than 25 years experience at the club level
but his job with Japan will be his first in charge of a national
team.

”It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted to accept this
challenge,” Zaccheroni said. ”There is a lot of work ahead and
I’m looking forward to getting the support of everyone
involved.”

Zaccheroni’s first competitive tournament will be the Asian Cup
in Qatar in January. He will watch from the stands when Japan plays
Paraguay and Guatemala in friendlies at home on Sept. 4 and 7.

Zaccheroni said developing a rapport with the players will be
key to his success in Japan.

”I want to have a very open relationship with the players,”
Zaccheroni said. ”It’s not good to hold things back. This is a
very young team so it’s important to have a lot of communication
with the players.”