Fri, Apr 09, 2010 - Page 19 News List

Japan coach under fire after defeat

AFP , TOKYO

Japan’s shock 3-0 loss to a second-string Serbia side has put coach Takeshi Okada under fire only two months ahead of the World Cup in South Africa.

Home supporters booed and threw paper cups onto the pitch after the friendly in Osaka on Wednesday, where Okada had aimed to test domestic J-League players for the last time before announcing his World Cup squad in the middle of next month.

The Sports Nippon daily said Okada’s World Cup preparation “almost collapsed 64 days before the event.”

Okada, who has targeted a semi-final spot in South Africa, defended himself by saying his squad were not at full strength, playing without Europe-based stars like CSKA Moscow’s Keisuke Honda and Catania’s Takayuki Morimoto.

However, the visitors also played without their big names, with midfielder Radosav Petrovic the only player in the squad who competed in World Cup qualifying. Head coach Radomir Antic even left his job to an assistant.

Dragan Mrda bagged a brace and Nemanja Tomic netted a second-half free kick for Serbia.

“Okada is responsible for making a team that can realize his game plan only with the regular starting players,” Sports Nippon said. “That is because whenever they played, he didn’t give chances to the substitute players.”

Before the match, commentator Sergio Echigo warned Japan were “worn out” and weaker than at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

“We can expect nothing from his team at the World Cup, to say nothing about reaching the last four. The national team is facing a crisis,” Echigo told the Nikkan Sports daily.

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