ITU, Brazil (AP) — Alberto Zaccheroni quit as Japan coach in the wake of the Asian champion's disappointing group-stage exit at the World Cup, saying the team needed a fresh influence.
Zaccheroni, who was appointed in 2010 on a four-year contract, announced the decision on Wednesday after earlier saying he'd wait until he returned to Japan to consider his future with the team.
Japan placed last in Group C with one point — from a 0-0 draw with 10-man Greece. The Japanese lost 2-1 after leading against the Ivory Coast in the group opener and then was routed 4-1 in its last game against Colombia on Tuesday.
Zaccheroni said he thought Japan was "superior in everything" against Colombia, but was still soundly beaten.
"This means there's something missing," he said. "Therefore, this morning I have told the federation and the players that the moment has come for me to step away from the Japanese national team.
"I think it's fair if someone new comes, a new person, a new coach, to find for the team whatever it is missing."
Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima said Zaccheroni made an important contribution to Japan's football development, even if the exit in Brazil was at an earlier stage than it was in 2010 in South Africa. Japan beat Cameroon and Denmark in the group stage in 2010 before losing in the second round on penalties to Paraguay.
'We, all players, are very disappointed that we couldn't show ourselves the way he wanted us to play," Kawashima said. "He contributed so much these four years. It's a pity that we couldn't get good results in the end. But these four years have been a big step for us with him."
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