Zaccheroni promises lasting legacy in Japan

TOKYO - Japan's new coach Alberto Zaccheroni swept into Tokyo on Tuesday, asking to be called "Zac" and promising a lasting legacy from his reign.

"First we have to finish in the top three at (next year's) Asian Cup," the 57-year-old Italian told reporters after being unveiled as Japan's sixth foreign manager.

"When my Japan adventure comes to an end I want the fans to have great memories of Zaccheroni's samurai."

The former AC Milan and Juventus coach brought a breathe of fresh air to his first news conference after taking over the Blue Samurai from World Cup coach Takeshi Okada.

"You can call me Zac," said Zaccheroni. "But I am OK with any nicknames the Japanese fans have for me."

Japan Football Association (JFA) president Junji Ogura predicted the Italian would lead Japan to the quarter-finals of the next World Cup in Brazil.

"I expect him to get the Blue Samurai to the last eight in 2014," Ogura said in a statement. "He has vast experience and is a real tactician of the game. I expect him to get Japan to play an attacking style of soccer."

The JFA did not reveal details of Zaccheroni's contract but it is understood he has signed a two-year deal with an option for another two years.

Zaccheroni, who led AC Milan to the Serie A title in 1999, said: "I jumped at the opportunity when the JFA came with their offer."

He praised the work of predecessor Okada, who led Japan to the last 16 of the World Cup in South Africa.

"Okada-san did a fantastic job," said Zaccheroni. "He left a great foundation in place."

Zaccheroni will watch Saturday's home friendly against Paraguay in Yokohama from the stands as he is still waiting for a work permit.

"Coaching a national team was the only challenge left for me," said Zaccheroni, whose first game in charge is expected to be the Oct. 8 friendly with Argentina in Saitama.

"Now I have the opportunity."

JFA technical director Hiromi Hara said Zaccheroni's lack of experience outside of Japan would not be a factor.

"His motivation and passion will make up for that," said Hara. "It's a life's ambition for him to coach a national team."

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