Sasaki set to leave Nadeshiko helm


Japan coach Norio Sasaki has indicated he will step down after Thursday’s women’s soccer final against the United States at the London Olympics.

“I feel fortunate to have coached this national team during its growth periods,” Sasaki told a news conference on Wednesday. “I look forward to seeing how much my team can do on the pitch tomorrow at the final chapter of my career.”

Sasaki’s contract expires Sept. 30. There are no matches scheduled for Japan after the London Olympics.

After Sasaki took the post in December 2007, Japan’s women reached the Olympic semifinals for the first time ever, only to lose to Germany in the bronze medal match in Beijing in 2008.

Last year, Sasaki led Japan to its first World Cup title in Germany after the country suffered a devastating earthquake and tsunami that claimed more than 15,000 lives.