TOKYO - Takeshi Okada will coach Japan at least until the end of the 2010 World Cup finals, the country's football supremo said on Tuesday. "Okada has been trying to give Japanese football its own identity," Japan Football Association (JFA) president Motoaki Inukai said. "Changing the coach (before the World Cup) would have a destabilising effect." Japan have already qualified for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa and Okada raised eyebrows by targeting a spot in the semi-finals. His best player Shunsuke Nakamura, however, undermined his coach by insisting such predictions were dangerous. Japan exited the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany with barely a whimper under Brazilian Zico after a blast of similar rhetoric from the coaching staff going into the tournament. Okada led Japan to their first World Cup finals in 1998 during his first spell in charge but they lost all three games. Inukai also said Japan had been invited to play an away friendly in Argentina as part of their build-up for next year's World Cup. Japan play the Netherlands and Ghana away before facing Scotland and Togo at home, followed by a trip to World Cup hosts South Africa before the end of the year.
28 July 2009
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