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Okada now frontrunner to replace stricken Osim

by James Mulligan

Takeshi Okada has emerged as the frontrunner to take over from the stricken Ivica Osim as Japan national team coach and is expected to be named the Bosnian’s successor, The Japan Times learned late Tuesday evening.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether former national team coach Okada would be taking over as interim boss before a big-name coach was announced as the permanent successor to Osim.

The 51-year-old Okada took over from Shu Kamo as national team coach in 1997 and led the national team in its first appearance in the World Cup finals in 1998 in France.

The Japan Football Association moved fast to pick a coach as Japan’s first 2010 World Cup qualifier is in February.

Okada resigned as coach of Yokohama F. Marinos in 2006 after winning J. League titles in 2003 and 2004.

On Monday, Urawa Reds strenuously denied a Nikkan Sports report that said coach Holger Osieck had agreed to take over from Osim as national team coach.