Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu will remain in charge of the Asian team for another World Cup cycle, the country’s soccer association announced on Thursday, aiming to break new ground after a series of near misses.
That Moriyasu was still in charge came as no surprise after he led Japan to victories over former World Cup champions Germany and Spain during the final in Qatar en route to topping what was considered the tournament’s toughest group. .
The 54-year-old, whose team was beaten in the round of 16 by Croatia, will be the first coach to lead the nation to successive World Cup campaigns.
“I am extremely honored as I prepare for the difficult mission ahead and the weight of responsibility that comes with the job,” Moriyasu said at a press conference.
“I want to take up the challenge with the belief that nothing is impossible for Japan.”
The round of 16 loss in Qatar was another instance of Moriyasu coming up short internationally since taking over as Samurai Blue’s manager after the 2018 World Cup.
Despite a trophy-laden club career in which he led Sanfrecce Hiroshima to three J-League titles in four seasons, Moriyasu has yet to experience similar success with Japan.
Japan lost in the Asian Games gold medal match to a South Korean team led by Son Heung-min in Jakarta weeks after Moriyasu was named head of the national team, setting the tone for a series of near misses that followed.
Japan then failed to secure a record-extending fifth Asian Cup title in early 2019 after Moriyasu’s team lost to Qatar in the continental championship final in Abu Dhabi.
More disappointment followed two years later when Moriyasu, who doubled as coach of Japan’s Olympic team, failed to claim a medal at the delayed Tokyo Games in 2021.
However, Japan’s results in Qatar raised expectations that it can take the nation into uncharted territory, as the country has never progressed past the round of 16 at the World Cup.
“He deserves tremendous appraisal for producing a result that resonated throughout society, and not just within the Japanese football community,” JFA President Kozo Tashima said.
“We considered that keeping him was the quickest way to get … (to) the quarterfinals of the World Cup.”
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