TOKYO - Flushed with pride, the coach of Japan's Asian Cup-winning squad is eyeing July's Copa America as another stepping stone for his Blue Samurai.
Alberto Zaccheroni took over from Okada Takeshi shortly after the 2010 World Cup and tasted early success at the weekend when Japan beat Australia 1-0 in extra time in the Asian Cup final at Qatar's Khalifa Stadium.
"I have never been around a team where so many players came off the bench to decide the outcome of games," he told Japanese news agency Kyodo. "I am so proud to be coaching this team."
Japan will compete as guests at the Copa America where they have been drawn with hosts Argentina.
Zaccheroni's side beat the Argentines in a friendly last October in his debut as national coach and the two sides will meet again in Group A of the Conmebol organised South American Championship.
"This team got the job done at the Asian Cup so I see no reason why they won't be the base for us," said Zaccheroni.
"The Copa America, just like the Asian Cup, will be about gaining experience, growing together as a group.
"It will not be about winning a title. The teams we will play at the Copa America will differ in style and quality from those of the Asian Cup, and we will adjust to them as we need to. That is the challenge."comments