Okada takes over from Osim as Japan coach

December 7, 2007

TOKYO, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Japan named Takeshi Okada as national team boss on Friday - 10 years after he began his first spell as head coach.

The 51-year-old, who led Japan to their first World Cup finals in 1998, took charge after Bosnian Ivica Osim suffered a stroke and fell into a coma last month.

'I can't make Japan play Osim's style of soccer - nobody can,' Okada told a news conference. 'But I will do everything to get Japan to the 2010 World Cup.

'I will build the team step by step during the qualifiers, making the most of what the team has now.'

Japan begin their qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in February.

The bespectacled Okada said he had no hesitation accepting the offer, formally approved after a Japan Football Association board meeting earlier in the day.

'I felt a sense of duty,' he told reporters. 'I thought I needed to give it my best effort for Japan. I didn't think very deeply about the offer before accepting.'

Okada first took charge of Japan in 1997, salvaging the side's qualifying campaign for the finals in France the following year after previous coach Shu Kamo was fired.

However, Japan's World Cup debut ended in three consecutive defeats and Okada was replaced by Frenchman Philippe Troussier.

Okada went on to manage J-League clubs Consadole Sapporo and Yokohama F-Marinos.

Osim, who had been Japan coach since the team's 2006 World Cup flop under Brazilian Zico, has awoken from his coma but the 66-year-old remains in hospital.