Cerezo fire coach for second time this season


Fading Cerezo Osaka made their second managerial change of the J. League season on Monday, promoting youth coach Yuji Okuma for Italian Marco Pezzaiuoli.

A night after they were eliminated on aggregate from the Nabisco Cup despite beating Kawasaki Frontale 3-2 away in a quarterfinal second leg, Cerezo hit the panic button, installing Okuma in his first J1 coaching job.

“The manager tried to turn things around in a hurry since June, but it just did not lead to results,” Masao Okano, club president, said in a statement.

“We are no longer in a position of achieving the goal we had at the beginning of the season. We must now try to keep our place in J1, which is why we had to make the difficult decision of changing managers for the second time this season.”

Pezzaiouli had not won a single game since stepping in for Ranko Popovic during the World Cup break. Cerezo’s latest league defeat on Aug. 30, a 2-1 home defeat to Vissel Kobe, saw them drop into the relegation zone at 16th.

Cerezo, who had preseason championship ambitions with the signing of 2010 World Cup MVP Diego Forlan, have not won in 11 straight games, their last victory dating back to May 3.

Okuma’s side hosts Kashiwa Reysol on Saturday, when the league resumes after the international break.