New Japan manager Zico is encouraging J. League clubs to play abroad to help improve the standard of Japanese soccer, Japan Football Association president Saburo Kawabuchi quoted him as saying Thursday.

In their two-hour meeting, according to Kawabuchi, Zico said the Kashima Antlers, his old club, gained some valuable experience in their recent Italian tour, despite the J. League champions’ 6-0 humiliation at the hands of Serie A club Roma before 60,000 fans.

“Zico said that (kind of tour) will be good to help increase the level of the players and clubs,” Kawabuchi said.

Zico, meanwhile, is still looking for assistant coaches before he starts his Japan job after his initial request of hiring a Brazilian assistant coach on a full-time basis was turned down by the JFA for financial reasons.

Kawabuchi said they will likely appoint a Japanese coach from a J. League club to join Zico on the national team only when needed, instead of hiring someone on a full-time basis. Cerezo Osaka physical trainer Takeshi Satouchi is currently believed to be the strongest candidate for the job.

“Zico proposed the idea and it sounded fine to us, the association, for financial reasons and it would be good for a coach who wanted to boost his career. We’ll ask J. League clubs for understanding with this system,” Kawabuchi said.

Zico also commented on the collapsed transfer of Japan and Shimizu S-Pulse midfielder Alessandro “Alex” Santos to English Premiership side Charlton.

“It was disappointing,” Zico said. “He must have been looking forward to (playing there). But this kind of thing happens in professional soccer and I hope he can cope with it and work hard here in the J. League.”

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