Mon, 30 Nov, -0001
Recife: Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni has resigned after taking responsibility for the Asian champions’ exit from the FIFA World Cup following a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Colombia on Wednesday.
The loss was the last blow to the Samurai Blue in their quest for at least a runners-up finish in Group C in order to advance to the Round of 16 of the tournament in Brazil.
Their dismal campaign had started with a 2-1 loss to Cote d’Ivoire in a match which the Japanese led 1-0 at the break before the Ivorians came from behind with two quick successive goals to turn the match round against the Japanese.
Five days later Japan drew 0-0 with Greece, before losing to the Colombians, and finished bottom of the group sitting on one point.
"I really wanted to take us forward and qualify for the second round and I am so disappointed. But I picked the team, decided on the tactics and how we play and I want to take full responsibility," the Italian was quoted as saying by Kyodo News.
"Everyone got together at lunch today and I offered my thanks to all the people that have supported the team. I would select exactly the same players and staff if I had another chance."
The 61-year-old, who led Japan to a record fourth AFC Asian Cup in 2011 and started his reign as Japan coach with a 16-match unbeaten streak, believes the team are lacking physical strength but are on course to a good run at the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.
"I think the culture of Japanese soccer and the special characteristics and technique of the players can cut it on the world stage but physical strength is what is lacking," he said.
"I have tried to create a team with speed and intensity and don't think the direction I tried to take the team was the wrong one.
"I think the team should continue on the same path it has been on for the last four years."
Japan will now focus their attention on Australia 2015 and will be in Group D along with Jordan, Palestine and Iraq. They will commence the campaign for their fifth title against the Palestinians on January 12, 2015 at Newcastle Stadium.