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Sekizuka targets survival with Jubilo

Kyodo

New Jubilo Iwata manager Takashi Sekizuka was introduced to the media by the struggling J. League first division club on Monday.

Sekizuka, who steered the Japanese men’s team to a fourth-place finish at last summer’s London Olympics, will take charge following Saturday’s away game against promoted Oita Trinita. Jubilo are currently 17th in the league.

“We want to break out of this funk and show what we are really made of this season,” said Sekizuka, who returns to the J. League for the first time since 2009, when he was manager of Kawasaki Frontale.

Although the club offered him a multiyear contract, Jubilo acceded to Sekizuka’s wishes and made it an eight-month deal.

“The important thing is how we compete this season,” he said.

Hitoshi Morishita stepped down as manager on May 4 after a disastrous start to the season and assistant coach Tetsu Nagasawa was installed as caretaker while Jubilo looked for a permanent replacement.

But Jubilo, whose failure to win in their first seven games marked their worst-ever start to a J. League campaign, squandered a two-goal lead and were held 2-2 by FC Tokyo in Nagasawa’s first game in charge on May 6.

A 1-0 reverse at home to Kashiwa Reysol followed before their latest setback against Frontale, losing 4-2 last weekend. Nagasawa will return to his previous position on the coaching staff.