Soccer | ASIAN CUP

JFA chief: Aguirre will remain as manager

Kyodo

Japan Football Association chief Kuniya Daini confirmed Saturday that Javier Aguirre will stay on as coach of the national team, a day after the defending champions were knocked out of the Asian Cup in the quarterfinals.

A Valencia court has reportedly accepted a claim filed by Spanish prosecutors accusing Aguirre and 40 other individuals of their involvement in fixing a Spanish League match between his former club Real Zaragoza and Levante in 2011.

But Daini said the JFA has been unable to confirm the reports and as a result, Aguirre will remain in charge.

Daini, speaking to reporters at Sydney Airport before flying back to Japan, said, “When the initial report that the court case had been accepted came out, usually in these situations the report tends to be right.

“We are checking every day to see if the case has been accepted or not and so far we have not been able to confirm it and we are sticking with Aguirre.

“Once we know for sure whether it has or has not been accepted we will explain our position. From our point we are praying that the case has not been accepted,” he said.

Daini, meanwhile, said he believed Japan was becoming a stronger team, despite missing countless chances against the United Arab Emirates and getting knocked out in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw following extra time.

“It was a game we should have won,” he said. “I don’t mean to make excuses but we only had two days off in between (one less than the United Arab Emirates). We created lots of chances and I think we are becoming a better team.

“I think the players have got first-hand understanding of how tough the competition is in Asia.”

Aguirre was manager of Zaragoza when the team beat Levante 2-1 away at the end of the 2011 season and as a result avoided relegation.

Prosecutors allege the Levante players were paid a total of €965,000 to deliberately lose.

Zaragoza first made bank transfers to Aguirre and its players and officials, who then took the money from their accounts and passed it on to the Levante players, according to published reports that cited the prosecutors.

Former Zaragoza president Agapito Iglesias and players from both teams are cited as defendants in the case.

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