• Kyodo News


J. League second-division side Shonan Bellmare said Thursday that Yasuharu Sorimachi, who managed Japan at the Beijing Olympics, will become their manager for next season.

During his playing career, Sorimachi spent four seasons through 1997 with Bellmare Hiratsuka, the forerunners of Shonan.

Sorimachi retired in 1997 and managed Albirex Niigata for five years from 2001, helping them to a first-ever promotion to the top flight in 2004.

In Beijing, Japan lost all three matches in the first round under the 44-year-old coach.

In other league news, Kashiwa Reysol will pick Shinichiro Takahashi as the first-division club’s new manager and appoint former national team defender Masami Ihara as his right-hand man, it was learned Thursday.

Former Sanfrecce Hiroshima striker Takahashi will be promoted from head coach and take over the managerial hot seat vacated by Nobuhiro Ishizaki.

Ihara has been capped a record number of times for his country and served as a coach on the Japan Under-23 team at this year’s Beijing Olympics.

Also Thursday, the Japan Football Association decided not to extend former national team coach Ivica Osim’s contract as adviser, which expires at the end of this month, due to health reasons.

Osim, who suffered a serious stroke in November 2007, has given advice on the development of coaches since he assumed the post in June.

The 67-year-old, now in Japan, ruled out the possibility of returning to the field as coach, saying, “My doctor has told me that I’m not ready for that.”

As for Japan’s bid to reach the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, Osim said, “They are going to make it.”

Osim took over from Zico as Japan coach after the team’s first-round exit at the 2006 World Cup in Germany but was unable to guide the team to a third successive Asian Cup title in the summer of 2007.

Takeshi Okada, who led Japan to their first World Cup appearance at the 1998 finals in France, replaced Osim as head coach in December 2007.

Vissel hire coach

KOBE (Kyodo) Vissel Kobe have signed a provisional contract with Brazilian Caio Junior as their new coach to replace Hiroshi Matsuda, the J. League first-division club said Thursday.

Caio Junior was fired by Brazilian club Flamengo earlier in the week after the club missed out on a place in South America’s Libertadores Cup.

The 43-year-old is expected to sign a multiyear contract with Kobe, which had set its sights on a top-five finish this year but ended in 10th place in the 18-team table.

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