Photo: Javier Aguirre
Japan’s soccer federation said Thursday it has named Mexico’s Javier Aguirre as head coach of the Asian nation’s national team.
It did not indicate the terms of the deal reached with the 55-year-old former manager of Spanish-league side Espanyol, who, according to local media, will arrive in Japan in mid-August.
“El Vasco,” who coached the Mexican national team to Round of 16 berths in the 2002 and 2010 World Cups, will be tasked with preparing the Samurai Blue for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Aguirre replaces Italy’s Alberto Zaccheroni, who took over as coach of Japan’s squad in 2010 but stepped down after the team failed to qualify for the knockout stage of the recently concluded World Cup in Brazil.
The Mexican coach’s first game as Japan’s coach will be a Sept. 5 friendly in the northern city of Sapporo against Uruguay.
Four days later, he will coach the squad in a Sept. 9 friendly in Yokohama against Venezuela.
His first international tournament as Japan’s manager will be the 2015 AFC Asia Cup in Australia, where the Samurai Blue have been drawn in the same group with Jordan, Iraq and Palestine.
Besides his experience with Mexico’s national team and Espanyol, Aguirre has coached the Mexican clubs America and Pachuca as well as Osasuna and Atletico Madrid in Spain.
El Vasco, who played for the Mexican national squad as a midfielder, becomes the seventh foreigner to coach Japan after Zaccheroni, Brazilians Zico and Falcão, the Netherlands’ Hans Ooft, Bosnian Ivica Osim and France’s Philippe Troussier.
Nikkan Sports newspaper reported late last month that Aguirre had agreed to coach the Japanese national soccer team through the 2018 World Cup.
The daily said the Mexican was ready to sign a deal that would pay him 1.8 million ($2.45 million) a year, around 20 percent more than Zaccheroni’s reported compensation.