Javier Aguirre to remain Japan coach following Asian Cup defeat to UAE
The head of the Japan Football Association says Javier Aguirre will continue as coach of the national team despite elimination from the Asian Cup at the quarter-final stage and ongoing investigations into his alleged involvement in match fixing.
Japan’s shock Asian Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of the UAE has left their big-money players dumbfounded and plunged the future of Mexican coach Aguirre into doubt.
The holders and four-time champions crashed out on penalties after superstars Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa missed from the spot in Friday’s nail-biter in Sydney as Aguirre paid the price for not rotating his squad in the group stages.
The 56-year-old took over after the World Cup for a record salary for a Japan coach of an estimated $2.45 million a year, but failure in Australia led to immediate speculation that he could be replaced as the JFA look to the 2018 World Cup qualifiers which begin in March.
As well as disappointing on-field results, Aguirre – who formerly coached in Spanish club football – became embroiled in a match-fixing probe launched by Spain’s state prosecutor. Aguirre denies any wrongdoing.
However, despite the negativity surrounding Aguirre, the JFA have given their backing to the coach. At least for now.
“The case is still being officially investigated so we will not comment further until there is official clarification,” JFA head Kunia Daini said. “In this light, Aguirre will still continue.”
Daini said he was pleased with the performance of the team at the Asian Cup. Japan didn’t concede a goal in its three group stage matches.
“Since the coach has taken up the job he has done a really good job in getting the team together,” Daini said. “He has done really well on that front. “
Aguirre was manager of Zaragoza when the team beat Levante 2-1 away at the end of the 2011 season and as a result avoided relegation to the second tier.
A complaint filed by prosecutors named Aguirre and players from both teams and Zaragoza officials for allegedly fixing that game.
In Spain, match-fixing is a crime that can lead to prison.
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Published: January 24, 2015 04:00 AM