Japan announced Hajime Moriyasu as national team head coach on Thursday amid reports that Arsene Wenger could still play an advisory role in the development of the game in the country. Before his 22 years at Arsenal, Wenger spent 18 successful months in Japan as coach of Nagoya Grampus from 1995 to 1996, a period that has produced a lasting mutual affection between the Frenchman and the country’s football fans and administrators.
The 68 year-old, who left the London club in May, was linked with the national team job before the Japan Football Association (JFA) decided to appoint a domestic coach to succeed Akira Nishino, who is stepping down after leading the Samurai Blue to the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup.
Moriyasu, an assistant to Nishino in Russia, is ready to introduce a stronger connection between the various national teams. He becomes the first Japan coach since Philippe Troussier in 2000 to take simultaneous charge of the senior and Olympic teams as he started preparation for the 2020 Tokyo games last year.
With the post-Russia international retirement of star attacker Keisuke Honda and captain Makoto Hasebe, there will be some opportunities for new faces for Japanese prospects.
“There will be generational changes. There will be integration of various generations of players,” Moriyasu said at a Tokyo press conference.
The 49-year-old led Sanfrecce Hiroshima to three J-League titles in the space of five years from 2012 to 2017. Moriyasu’s first challenge with the senior team will be the 2019 Asian Cup in January.
According to Sports Nippon newspaper, the JFA could still offer Wenger the post of technical director or even a more unofficial advisory role.
“I met Wenger during the World Cup in Russia,” JFA president Kozo Tashima was quoted as saying. “He is taking a break from football but we talked about Japanese football.”cd