• Kyodo

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The Japan Football Association on Wednesday announced it has given a new contract to women’s national team head coach Norio Sasaki.

A source said that the charismatic 57-year-old’s new deal will run through the end of next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Japan will be looking to earn one of the two Asian berths for Rio at the Feb. 29-March 9 final qualifying competition in Osaka.

“The qualifiers will be extremely tough. We want to do whatever it takes to get to Rio and go for the gold (medal),” Sasaki said at a press conference in Tokyo.

Sasaki, whose contract expired in August, was appointed head coach in 2008 and won the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany. Nadeshiko also won silver at the 2012 London Olympics.

He was unable to steer them to a second straight World Cup title in Canada this past summer as the Asian champions were beaten 5-2 by the United States in a rematch of the 2011 final.

“We have won the silver at the last two (major) competitions and really want us to be gold medal champions again so renewed my contract,” said Sasaki. “I want to aim for Rio with the players.”

Sasaki is to strengthen the team by taking the players on an overseas tour from Nov. 23-Dec. 2.

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