Soccer

Cerezo hire Pezzaiuoli as manager

Kyodo

J. League first-division side Cerezo Osaka announced Monday they have hired Marco Pezzaiuoli as manager following last week’s sacking of Ranko Popovic.

The 45-year-old Pezzaiuoli is a German-born Italian citizen, whose soccer career has primarily been spent in Germany, where he has managed national youth teams and also coached Bundesliga first-division club Hoffenheim.

“I feel so happy to have been hired to work at the talent treasure house known as Cerezo,” Pezzaiuoli said in a statement released by the club. “My thoughts are all about how to lift the (team’s) spirits.”

The club boasts Japan internationals Yoichiro Kakitani and Hotaru Yamaguchi, and accomplished Uruguay forward Diego Forlan. But Popovic, in his first season in charge, could only steer Cerezo to 13th place in the league. He was fired on June 9.