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Japan’s Under-22 side will face Iran in a friendly next February in its buildup for the final qualification tournament for the 2004 Athens Olympics, the Japan Football Association said Friday.

JFA executive director Takeo Hirata said Japan will meet Iran’s U-22s at Saitama Stadium 2002 on Feb. 8 and the Russian senior team at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Feb. 11.

Hirata said Japan will also play South Korea’s U-22s at Osaka’s Nagai stadium on Feb. 21.

The final qualifying tournament for Athens kicks off on March 1 in the United Arab Emirates, with Japan meeting the host, Lebanon and Bahrain.

New role for Miura

KOBE (Kyodo) Defender Yasutoshi Miura, who was released by Vissel Kobe earlier this month, will retire as a player and take up a new position as the head of team management, officials of the J. League first division side said Friday.

Miura, who was the oldest Japanese player in the J. League first division at 38, agreed to help the team by taking part in such matters as salary negotiations, youth development and the strengthening of the top team beginning Feb. 1 next year.

“I’d like to act as a bridge between the coach and players and help improve the team. I’m ready to quit if I work for six months and don’t start seeing changes,” he said.

The older brother of former Japan striker Kazuyoshi Miura, he scored 11 goals in 258 league matches over his career with teams including Shimizu S-Pulse and Verdy Kawasaki (now Tokyo Verdy) since the establishment of the J. League in 1993.

Nagoya signs Iwamoto

NAGOYA (Kyodo) J. League first division side Nagoya Grampus Eight announced on Thursday the acquisition of former Japan national team midfielder Teruo Iwamoto from Vegalta Sendai, which was relegated to the second division at the end of the two-stage season.

The 31-year-old Iwamoto, known for his fierce left foot and free-kick ability, has scored 32 goals in 186 league appearances over his career, including five in 26 matches over the course of this season.

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