• Kyodo

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Miguel Angel Lotina, whose contract as head coach of J. League second-division side Tokyo Verdy expired after two seasons, has been appointed manager of Cerezo Osaka, the team announced Friday.

The 61-year-old Basque joined Verdy as manager in 2017 after stints with clubs including Spanish side Celta Vigo, and helped it jump from 18th to fifth in the 22-team table in his first year. This year, Verdy finished sixth and missed out on promotion after losing to Jublio Iwata in a playoff.

“My role as team manager comes with great responsibility. Why? Because I know Cerezo’s history,” Lotina said in a video message on the club’s website.

“But at the same time, I am filled with hope and ambition to make it a good season for the players, staff, fans, and everyone surrounding Cerezo. I hope next year will be a year where the fans get to be proud of the team’s accomplishments,” he said.

Under former manager Yoon Jong-hwan, first-division side Cerezo Osaka won their first major domestic title by taking the YBC Levain Cup, then the Emperor’s Cup, both in 2017. But this year, they finished without a title and also failed to advance to the knockout stage of the Asian Champions League.

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