Norio Sasaki, who guided Japan to an astonishing victory at the 2011 Women’s World Cup final and the silver medal at the London Olympics last month, could be staying on as Nadeshiko coach.
Eiji Ueda, chief of women’s soccer at the Japan Football Association, revealed Wednesday that the charismatic 54-year-old is the only candidate the association is currently negotiating with.
When asked if any other prospective coaches were being tapped, Ueda, who spoke with Sasaki at the JFA’s headquarters in Tokyo the same day, replied “No,” adding he expected more talks to be held sometime next week.
Sasaki’s contract is up at the end of this month but there is no activity scheduled for the women’s national team for the rest of the year.
“There is no need to decide during September,” said Ueda.
The popularity of the women’s game, which had largely been ignored by mainstream media, exploded during the World Cup in Germany last summer as Japan stunned the United States 3-1 on penalties after a 2-2 extra-time draw in the final, the victory going down as arguably one of Japan’s greatest sporting achievements.
Japan came close to an unprecedented feat of winning the World Cup and Olympic gold in back-to-back years, but went down 2-1 to the Americans in the gold medal final in London. The Young Nadeshiko achieved more success for Japan when the hosts finished third at the recent Under-20 Women’s World Cup.