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Stojkovic denies being approached about managing Japan

by

Kyodo

Former Nagoya Grampus boss Dragan Stojkovic on Friday denied a report he has been approached by the Japan Football Association about the vacant national team coach’s job following the resignation of Italian Alberto Zaccheroni.

But the 49-year-old Stojkovic, who steered Grampus to the J. League title in 2010, admitted Friday that he would be happy if his name was on the JFA’s shortlist.

“Officially I never spoke with anybody. These are just kind of rumors,” Stojkovic told Kyodo News by telephone from Paris when asked if there was any truth to reports out of Serbia that he had been offered the Japan job.

“There have been rumors like this for a long time. It’s very difficult to stop the press to talk about that,” the former Yugoslavia captain said.

“If my name is on the list of candidates of course I would be very satisfied. It means that the JFA and others show respect for my work and my charisma and my name.

“I understand the Japanese mentality and I know the J. League very well. But the question is now if it is true that I am a candidate or not. I am not in Tokyo and I don’t know what they think.”

Stojkovic stepped down as Nagoya coach at the end of last season.

A fan favorite at Grampus during his playing days, “Piksi” scored 57 times in 184 J. League appearances and was named J. League MVP for the 1995 season.

He took over as Grampus manager in 2008 and secured the Toyota-backed club its first championship two years later.

Zaccheroni, 61, announced his resignation on Wednesday and said he took full responsibility for the Asian champions’ first-round exit at the World Cup in Brazil with two losses and a draw. His contract was due to expire after the tournament.

Often touted as a possible successor to his former Nagoya manager Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, Stojkovic felt Japan did not deserve to progress to the knockout phase.

“Looking at the other teams in the group I expected them (Japan) to take second place and go to the next round, but with the way they played and what they showed they didn’t deserve to go. All Japan fans must be very disappointed.”

Former Mexico and Espanyol manager Javier Aguirre and Argentine Jose Pekerman, whose Colombia national team sealed Japan’s World Cup exit with a 4-1 thumping in their last Group C game on Tuesday, are other names reportedly in the frame for the Japan job.