Hara gives deadline for coach candidates

Kyodo News

Japan Football Association technical director Hiromi Hara said Thursday he is hoping to reach an agreement with one of the three candidates he is in negotiations with for the Japan national team manager’s job by Friday.

Hara, who has come under fire for not yet having found a successor to World Cup coach Takeshi Okada despite a monthlong recruiting trip overseas, has given the three candidates, whose names have not been disclosed, until Friday European time (Saturday in Japan) to tell him whether they want the job or not.

“We are at a stage where we have to start thinking of what to do next if things turn out to be no good,” said Hara.

“One of the three candidates I think is a certainty and it is possible we will come to an agreement,” said Hara, adding that negotiations could continue even after the established deadline.

Hara revealed earlier this week that he had been in talks with former Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini and Greek side Olympiakos manager Ernesto Valverde, but was spurned by both of them.

Mexico’s World Cup coach Javier Aguirre, former Netherlands manager Marco Van Basten and former Porto boss Victor Fernandez have been linked with the Japan job.

Hara will be in the dugout as acting coach for Japan’s friendlies against Paraguay and Guatemala on Sept. 4 and 7, respectively. Even if Hara does get his man of choice, a work permit cannot be issued in time for the two games at Yokohama and Osaka.

Hara’s bungling of the negotiations — Japan and North Korea are the only two teams from this summer’s World Cup who have not filled coaching vacancies — has strained the relationship between the JFA and the J. League clubs.