Japan Fa Stands By Under-fire Coach Â€“ Report
The Japan Football Association has vowed to stand by its national coach, Takeshi Okada, after supporters filed a petition calling for his resignation ahead of the World Cup, reports said Tuesday.
The petition with about 1,000 signatures was handed to the JFA Monday by four men representing the supporters, the Sports Nippon reported.
But a JFA spokesman told them, 'It is our final decision to go to the World Cup under coach Okada,' the daily added.
With the World Cup kicking off in South Africa in less than eight weeks' time Okada has come under fire after his Blue Samurai finished third behind China and South Korea in the East Asian championships at home in February.
Earlier this month, they were booed by supporters after losing 3-0 to a second-string Serbian side in a home friendly.
But JFA president Motoaki Inukai has stuck with Okada, who guided Japan in their winless World Cup debut in France 1998, in his first stint as national coach.
Okada, who has declared a goal of reaching a semifinal spot in South Africa 2010, returned home Tuesday from a tour of Europe, where he called on three key Japanese players based there.
The three midfielders - CSKA Moscow's Keisuke Honda, Makoto Hasebe of Wolfsburg and Grenoble's Daisuke Matsui - were 'all in fine shape,' Okada told reporters after returning to Tokyo's Narita airport.
Okada has previously said he will include the three in the World Cup squad he is due to announce on May 10.
Okada said he had also met Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in London to ask about Wenger's fellow Frenchman Paul Le Guen, who manages African powerhouse Cameroon, Japan's first opponents in South Africa.
Okada said he wanted to know if Le Guen is an 'idealist or realist' before Japan take on the physically stronger Cameroon in Bloemfontein on June 14.
'Wenger said he (Le Guen) is rather a realist,' Okada added. 'I reckon Cameroon may possibly come out attacking us with a series of long balls as we are not good at them.'