Thursday 10 March 2016, 15:44

Sasaki and Japan part ways

Norio Sasaki has confirmed he has left his position on Wednesday following Japan’s failure to qualify for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Rio later this year.    Sasaki, who had been in charge of the Nadeshiko since the 2008 East Asian Cup, had enjoyed tremendous success, leading Japan to global glory at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in Germany and a Silver Medal at the 2012 London Olympics. He was also named FIFA and AFC Coach of the Year in 2011.    The 57-year-old was in Zurich for the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala at the turn of the calendar year and finished runner-up to Jill Ellis for the Coach of the Year Award. However, he has paid the price for failing to guide Japan to a fourth straight Olympics after his side eventually finished third in the six-team qualifiers in Osaka.   The Nadeshiko failed to win any of their first three games after losing to eventual qualifiers Australia and China PR either side of a draw with Korea Republic. However, his reign ended with victories over Vietnam and Korea Republic, although it was not enough to see them qualify for Rio 2016.   “I take my job as national coach very seriously and if the results aren’t there, you have to take the responsibility," he said. “Had we qualified, I was hoping to work a little ‘Norio magic’ to win us a gold medal in Rio, but I couldn’t work the magic even in qualifying.   “The thing I hope I’ve left is a feeling that this team has the possibility of achieving something. We weren’t able to do it this time, but the team will come back. Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be really concerned about how the team is doing. I’ll always be interested in the future of women’s football so I’ll be rooting for them.”