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Struggling Ardija to appoint Ogura as new coach

Kyodo

Omiya Ardija will name technical director and former Japan national team assistant Tsutomu Ogura as their new manager, club president Shigeru Suzuki said Tuesday.

Omiya, despite being fourth in J1 only six points off the pace, sacked coach Zdenko Verdenik on Sunday, a day after the team lost its fifth match in a row.

Suzuki on Tuesday explained the decision that caused ripples around the J. League, saying Verdenik, who saved Ardija from relegation last season, had clashed with the coaching staff and lost the players in the dressing room.

“We were no longer together as a team,” Suzuki said.

Omiya, whose general manager Takeyuki Okamoto will fill in as coach until Ogura is officially appointed, is targeting 53 points for the season. Ardija currently have 36, with 14 matches left to play.

The 47-year-old Ogura assisted the two previous national coaches, Takeshi Okada and Ivica Osim. He was also a part of Japan’s coaching staff at the London Olympics, where Takashi Sekizuka’s side reached the semifinals.

Ardija will be Ogura’s first managing job.

“If we give up on our goal at this point in the season, we’ll never get away from being a club that has to fight off relegation year after year,” Suzuki said.

“We saw this as an opportunity, and took a drastic decision,” he said.