• Kyodo


Urawa Reds have terminated the contract of Serbian manager Mihailo Petrovic following a poor run of results, the J. League first-division club said Sunday.

The announcement comes a day after the 2007 Asian champions slumped to a 2-0 defeat away to lowly Consadole Sapporo, Reds’ eighth loss in the last 12 games.

Coach Takafumi Hori, 49, will take over first-team managerial duties from the 59-year-old Petrovic, who was in charge at Sanfrecce Hiroshima from 2006-2011 before becoming Urawa’s boss in 2012.

Reds finished top of the overall standings last season with the most points under the two-stage system, but lost on the away goals rule to Kashima Antlers after a 2-2 aggregate draw in the two-leg Championship final. Petrovic also guided the team to victory in the League Cup.

“Each year the team has made steady progress and I think that I have delivered good results,” Petrovic said in a club statement. “But I haven’t been able to do that these past two or three months and I think as manager I have to take responsibility for that.

“I feel bad that I wasn’t able to produce the results that were expected of me.”

With 14 games remaining this season, Reds are currently eighth in the J1 standings, 12 points behind first-place Cerezo Osaka.

But they are still involved in the Asian Champions League and face J. League rival Kawasaki Frontale in the quarterfinals over two legs on Aug. 23 and Sept. 13.

“As far as winning the league is concerned, I think the team is in a rather difficult situation, but a top-three finish is certainly achievable,” said Petrovic.

“There are chances to win titles in the ACL, the Suruga Bank Championship, the YBC Levain (League) Cup and the Emperor’s Cup, and it is exactly at a time like this that I hope the supporters get behind the team.”

Petrovic told a group of angry fans after a 4-1 hammering at Kawasaki Frontale he would “be the first to leave” if the club did not get back to winning ways against Albirex Niigata on July 9.

The team came from behind to win that game 2-1 but the writing appeared to be on the wall for Petrovic after Reds then lost 4-2 away to Cerezo before their latest setback against Sapporo on Saturday.

Hori will take over as manager for a second time. He was in charge of the team for the last two months of the 2011 season after Zeljko Petrovic was dismissed with the team embroiled in a relegation battle.

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