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Japan coach steps down

Friday, June 27, 2014

SAO PAULO - Alberto Zaccheroni has stepped down as Japan coach following the side's failure to qualify for the knockout stages of the 2014 World Cup.

"These have been four extraordinary years but it is now time for a change," Zaccheroni said.

He admitted full responsibility for Japan's failure to get out of Group C but said he would do it all again just the same way if he had the chance.

In an emotional goodbye at Japan's Itu base camp. He said: "I would select exactly the same players and staff if I had another chance.

"I have offered my thanks to all the people that have supported the team in my time as coach. I am the one that decided the tactics and how we play and I want to take full responsibility."

The 61-year-old, who joined Japan in 2010, became the second Italian coach to leave his post this World Cup after Cesare Prandelli vacated his position as Italy coach on Tuesday.

Despite his failure to deliver with the Blue Samurai, Zaccheroni's reputation does not appear to have been damaged in his homeland where his name has even been mentioned among candidates to replace Prandelli.

Japan arrived at the tournament as Asian Cup holders and with expectations they could reach the knock-out phase, but they lost 2-1 against Ivory Coast, having led in the opening game.

They then drew 0-0 with Greece despite having a man extra for most the match and lost 4-1 against Colombia in their final Group game.

Zaccheroni can still walk away from the Japan job with his head held high. Under-performing stars such as Shinji Kagawa, who Zaccheroni dropped for the second game against Greece, have been blamed for the failure to reach the knockout stages as much as the coach.

And there is affection for the Italian who admitted after the defeat against Colombia: "I can't put into words how good my time has been in Japan. It has been an incredible experience."

As one of only two coaches to have coached Juventus, Milan and Inter in Serie A — Giovanni Trapattoni is the only other - Zaccheroni's reapplication in Italy remains intact.

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