The Japan Football Association have begun their search for a new national team coach after Takeshi Okada reiterated his intention to step down.
The 53-year-old guided the Samurai Blue to their best-ever FIFA World Cup™ performance on foreign soil as they reached the last 16 in South Africa, where they lost 5-3 on penalties to Paraguay after the game had ended goalless in 120 minutes.
Japan had shown poor form in the build-up to the tournament but put that behind them as they beat Cameroon and Denmark in the group stage and narrowly lost 1-0 to Holland. However, Okada feels the time is right for a new coach to come in and take the national team forward.
I've coached a lot of teams, but this World Cup team was definitely one of the best.
''I've coached a lot of teams, but this World Cup team was definitely one of the best,'' he said. ''I don't think I'll work with these players again. I just wish them all the best in their careers.''
JFA technical director Hiromi Hara admitted the decision to appoint Okada's successor will not be rushed but hopes to have someone in place before the end of July.
''As the most important point, we'll see how each candidate could strengthen our national team,'' he said. 'We'd like to make a decision by taking account of not only experience but personality and passion for Japan. We don't want to rush anything. Things will start moving once the World Cup is over."