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Postecoglou lands Japanese coaching gig

Soccer

Europe was calling but outgoing Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou’s next coaching job will be in Japan.

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The Asian Cup winner has accepted the job in charge of City Football Group (CFG)-aligned J.League club Yokohama F.Marinos and will take up the reins in the new year.

The deal fulfils Postecoglou’s ambitions to return to club soccer, having successfully steered the Socceroos to next year’s World Cup.

The 52-year-old announced his departure as national team coach four weeks ago after becoming the first Australian to oversee a successful qualification for the tournament.

Instead of preparing the Socceroos for their campaign in Russia, he will be organising a move to Tokyo for the J.League season which begins in late February.

Even while contracted as national team coach, Postecoglou made no secret of his desires to return to club soccer at the end of his FFA contract.

He had hoped that club would be in Europe but CFG’s ambitious plans in Japan and links to flagship club Manchester City have persuaded Postecoglou to defer his plans to return to the continent.

The trail-blazing coach was previously linked to cashed-up Shanghai Shenhua of the dubious-quality Chinese Super League.

There are no such qualms of the competition across the East China Sea in the J.League, which is seen as the best national league in Asia.

Yokohama are a faded powerhouse of the competition, with five titles, the last coming in 2004.

The job will be Postecoglou’s second stint overseas after coaching Panachaiki, a Greek third-division club, a decade ago.

He will become the first Australian to coach in the J.League since Graham Arnold — the man most likely to replace him as Socceroos coach — had an ill-fated spell in charge of Vegalta Sendai ending in April 2014.

Postecoglou will oversee Socceroos defender Milos Degenek at Yokohama, though it’s likely the parochial Australian will look at other national team talent to bolster his squad for the 2018 season.

Postecoglou replaces Erick Mombaerts as coach.

The Frenchman’s contract is not being renewed after a fifth-placed finish in 2017.

Mombaerts remains at the club to the end of the Japanese knock-out competition, the Emporer’s Cup, with the club playing a semi-final against Kashiwa Reysol on Saturday.

Should Yokohama win the final on New Year’s Day they will reach the Asian Champions League — which could see Postecoglou coach against A-League entries Sydney FC or Melbourne Victory later in 2018.

– AAP

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