Osim tells Japan to sharpen up

Former Japan coach Ivica Osim, fresh out of hospital after a serious stroke that cost him his job, called on Tuesday on the former Asian champions to sharpen up.

"I want all of you to do the following things," the 66-year-old Bosnian said in a statement to fans on Tuesday as he was discharged after more than four months in hospital.

"Come over to the stadium and put a lot of pressure on the players. Tell them to run more and quicken up the speed of play," said the statement released by the Japan Football Association.

"And if the players perform well, give them a big hand."

Osim returned to his house in a Tokyo suburb but will visit hospital once or twice a week for rehabilitation, the association said.

Osim also said of his former team: "I wish them good luck and good performances in the World Cup qualifiers and the Beijing Olympics as my interest will always be progress in Japanese football."

The former coach collapsed at his home early on the morning of 16 November. He came out of a coma two weeks later and left intensive care on Christmas Eve.

The famously gruff coach took the former Yugoslavia to the 1990 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals where they lost to Argentina on penalties. He arrived in Japan to 2003 to steer strugglers JEF United into serious J-League contention.

Under Osim, Japan won 13 matches, lost five and drew two but failed to win a third straight Asian Cup in July.

Osim has been replaced as national coach by homegrown tactician Takeshi Okada, who led Japan to their first FIFA World Cup finals in 1998 but has so far had mixed reviews.