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Struggling Albirex name Lopes new manager

Kyodo

Albirex Niigata on Thursday announced the appointment of former Japan striker Wagner Lopes as manager of the J. League first-division strugglers.

The Brazilian-born Lopes, 48, replaces Fumitake Miura. Miura stepped down having been placed on leave after he offered to resign as manager following last Friday’s 3-0 defeat to Kawasaki Frontale.

“I am honored to be given this chance with Albirex Niigata,” Lopes said in a club statement.

“I will, together with all of the players, staff and supporters, battle earnestly in each game and do my best to help the team win.”

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

Lopes played for clubs including 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 was assistant coach to Brazilian Jose Carlos Serrao at Gamba Osaka in 2012, but was released along with Serrao just five games into the season after Gamba opened the campaign with five straight defeats.

Gamba had hoped to hire Lopes as manager, but discovered that he did not have the necessary license to manage in the J. League.

Lopes was most recently managing at Brazilian club Parana Clube.