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Albirex nearing deal to make Lopes manager

Kyodo

Struggling Albirex Niigata have come to terms on a deal to make Brazilian-born former Japan striker Wagner Lopes their new manager and are finalizing the agreement, a source close to the matter said Wednesday.

Lopes was tapped to take the reins after Fumitake Miura, who was placed on leave by the J. League first division side last weekend, offered to resign as manager after last Friday’s 3-0 defeat to Kawasaki Frontale.

The 48-year-old Lopes, who retired as a player in 2002, is scheduled to arrive in Japan and sign the contract on Saturday and take charge of his first match as Albirex manager as early as May 20, when Albirex play Consadole Sapporo at home.

Lopes played for Bellmare Hiratsuka (now Shonan Bellmare) and Nagoya Grampus and obtained Japanese citizenship in 1997, a year before he was named to the Japan squad for the World Cup in France. He also had a coaching stint with Gamba Osaka.

Niigata is currently second from bottom in the J1 standings with just five points from 10 games this season.

Miura was manager of third-division AC Nagano Parceiro last year and took over as head coach at Albirex this season.