Zaccheroni: 2014 will be a festival
Alberto Zaccheroni has revealed the opportunity to coach at international level was the main factor behind his decision to accept the Japan post. The Japan Football Association (JFA) yesterday confirmed the Italian as the successor to Takeshi Okada, who stepped down after guiding his country to the Round of 16 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Zaccheroni brings with him a wealth of experience having led a number of clubs including Lazio, Inter Milan, Juventus and AC Milan, whom he led to the domestic title in 1999. However, he is now keen to test himself on the international stage.
"Having worked in Italy for more than 25 years and having won Serie A (with AC Milan), I was looking for a bigger challenge. That is coaching a national team," he said.
"In the World Cup, Japan displayed good solidarity as a team and showed some wonderful play. That is why I should thank Mr Okada for his great work. With such a good backbone, I will be able to make a good start with the team."
Zaccheroni is confident he can build on Okada's success in South Africa - it was the first time Japan qualified for the knockout stage of a FIFA World Cup on foreign soil - at January's AFC Asian Cup in Qatar.
"When I received the offer from the JFA, I immediately felt with great passion that I would like to accept it and take on this challenge," the 57-year-old added. "Japan has made rapid development in the last ten years and can develop further.
"Japan has already displayed its standard in the World Cup and should show that in the Asian Cup as well. We should aim to make the top three there.
"The 2014 World Cup will be a festival in Brazil and Japan should be there. I would like to work with them and produce better results with them."
The JFA would not reveal the details of Zaccheroni's contract, but are confident they have the right man for the job. "With his wonderful achievements and experience, I am convinced that Mr Zaccheroni can help take Japanese football to higher level," said the organisation's vice-president Kuniya Daini.
However, Zaccheroni will have to wait until October's friendly with Argentina to take charge of the team as visa issues means he will have to watch Saturday's game against Paraguay, and the one three days later against Guatemala, from the stands.