• Soccer

JFA extends contract of Samurai Blue coach Moriyasu

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan soccer coach Hajime Moriyasu smiles during a press conference in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Wednesday.

Hajime Moriyasu, who led the national soccer team to its second consecutive top-16 World Cup finish in Qatar, will continue in the role, the Japan Football Association (JFA) announced Wednesday.

Moriyasu, 54, becomes the first national team coach to retain the job after a World Cup since Japan made its first appearance at the FIFA tournament in 1998.

“I’m honored to be appointed to lead the Japanese team once again. But at the same time, I’m aware of the challenge and responsibility of the mission ahead of us,” Moriyasu said at a press conference on Wednesday evening.

Moriyasu was tapped to manage the national team in July 2018 after the last World Cup in Russia and has developed a squad filled with talented young players.

At the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Japan entered the knockout stage as the winner of its group after defeating powerhouses Germany and Spain.

Japan had set a target of advancing to at least the quarterfinals but the Samurai Blue fell to Croatia in a penalty shootout in the round of 16.

Despite the disappointment, the JFA has offered to extend the contract of Moriyasu, whose tactics in Qatar earned him plaudits from pundits around the world.