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


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


”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


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.”