• Kyodo

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Japan coach Zico said Thursday he has no intention of coaching the national team beyond the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

“I’ll continue as coach until 2006 and then I will call it a day,” Zico was quoted as saying in a local newspaper ahead of Japan’s friendly against Hungary this weekend.

Zico later told reporters after training that he would not be interested in managing in the J. League or coaching the Brazilian national team after he steps down as Japan coach.

The Brazilian is under enormous pressure to make sure Japan qualifies for Germany and has come in for stinging criticism following a series of inept displays.

Japan faces Hungary on Sunday before moving to Prague to play the Czech Republic three days later.

Japan into semifinals

Japan thrashed Thailand 6-0 in Group C on Thursday evening to set up a semifinal showdown with North Korea at the women’s Asian zone qualifying tournament for this summer’s Athens Olympics.

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