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Okuma named Ardija manager

Kyodo

J. League first-division team Omiya Ardija announced Friday that their new manager would be former Japan assistant and FC Tokyo boss Kiyoshi Okuma.

“On top of making cohesion a priority, I want us to play a brand of soccer that will linger in everyone’s hearts,” the 49-year-old Okuma said in a statement.

In 2011, Okuma led FC Tokyo to promotion by winning the J2 as well as the Emperor’s Cup, and was an assistant for Japan at the 2010 World Cup.

Okuma replaces Tsutomu Ogura, who steered Ardija to 14th place in a tumultuous season.

Omiya won eight and drew two of its first 10 games of the season en route to a J. League record-breaking run of 21 games unbeaten under coach Zdenko Verdenik, and the Squirrels were top of the league for much of the first half of the campaign.

But Ardija lost steam and general manager Takeyuki Okamoto filled in as coach after Verdenik was fired, before technical director and ex-Japan national team assistant Ogura took over in August.