Takeshi Okada has confirmed he will once again coach the Japan national soccer team, a source close to the coach told The Japan Times on Tuesday.

News photoTakeshi Okada

Okada told the source that he had agreed to a request from the Japan Football Association (JFA) to replace stricken Bosnian coach Ivica Osim.

The 51-year-old Okada will take over on a permanent basis. No other details about the agreement were available.

On Tuesday afternoon, a JFA spokesperson told The Japan Times: “We are having a meeting on this matter now and therefore are unavailable to comment on it.”

Later, the JFA announced it had entered talks with Okada over the national team job.

According to sources, the JFA will attempt to delay officially unveiling Okada as coach until Dec. 7, at which time it will also aim to announce the replacement of Japan women’s coach Hiroshi Ohashi, who said Monday he is stepping down.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the JFA wants to delay the announcement. Dec. 7 is the opening day of the FIFA Club World Cup.

The JFA moved fast to pick a new coach after 66-year-old Osim suffered a serious stroke at his Chiba home on Nov. 16. Osim is slowly regaining consciousness in intensive care.

Japan’s first 2010 World Cup qualifier is at home against Thailand on Feb. 6, 2008.

Japan has been placed alongside Oman, Bahrain and Thailand in its first qualifying group for the finals in South Africa.

Okada took over from Shu Kamo as national team coach in 1997 and led the national team in its first appearance in the World Cup finals in ’98 in France, where it lost all three group matches. Okada resigned after the tournament.

After a spell in charge of Consadole Sapporo during which he led the club to promotion to J1, Okada became coach of Yokohama F. Marinos and led them to J. League titles in 2003 and ’04 before resigning in ’06 after a string of poor results.

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