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Former Japan Football Association chief Ken Naganuma died of pneumonia in a Tokyo hospital on Monday afternoon. He was 77.

Naganuma, who became Japan’s national coach in 1962 when he was 32 years old, led the country to the last eight at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and to the bronze medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

Naganuma, a Hiroshima native, assumed the JFA’s top post in 1994. Japan made its first-ever World Cup finals appearance four years later in France and cohosted the 2002 World Cup finals with South Korea.

“I’m shocked by this sudden news. He was my teammate at the Furukawa Denko corporate team. I was a national team member when he was coaching,” incumbent JFA chief Saburo Kawabuchi said.

“He gave us tremendous support for the establishment of the J. League. His efforts have led to toay’s success of the league.”

Naganuma also became a board member of the Japan Sports Association in 1985. He recommended ex-Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori to become the association’s president in 2005.

Naganuma first joined Japan’s national squad as a player while he was still a student at Chuo University.

Rovers OK talks

MANCHESTER , England (AP) Manchester City was given permission Monday by Blackburn to speak to Mark Hughes about succeeding Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Blackburn said Hughes asked to begin discussions with City, and the club had “reluctantly” agreed. Hughes won two Premier League titles and three F.A. Cups as a player with City’s fierce crosstown rival Manchester United.

Eriksson left City on Monday morning after a year in charge.

“Blackburn Rovers can confirm they have received an approach from Manchester City for permission to talk to Mark Hughes with regard to him becoming manager,” Blackburn said in a statement. “In view of this, the board have decided reluctantly to give him permission, subject to terms and conditions acceptable to Blackburn being agreed with Manchester City in advance.”

Blackburn finished seventh last season with three points more than ninth-placed City.

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