By John Duerden, Asia correspondent
Arsene Wenger is not the frontrunner for the vacant Japan national team job, despite various reports, with Hajime Moriyasu set to be appointed next week.
Wenger left Arsenal in May after 22 years with the club and, due to his availability and successful 18-month spell in charge of Nagoya Grampus prior to heading to London, it was no surprise that the Frenchman’s name has been mentioned as a replacement for Akira Nishino, who will step down at the end of the month.
“It is true that there was a chat with Arsene Wenger during the World Cup,” a Japan Football Association (JFA) official told ESPNFC. “The talks didn’t really go anywhere and that was that. Since then, we have been looking more at domestic coaches.”
Nishino replaced Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic in April on a temporary contract and took Japan to the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup. Following that showing in Russia, especially Japan’s impressive performance in a last-minute 3-2 loss to Belgium in the round-of-16 showdown, the JFA has come to the conclusion that the national team should continue to be managed by a Japanese coach.
Moriyasu, who assisted Nishino at the World Cup, has impressive credentials. The 49-year-old took Sanfrecce Hiroshima to a first-ever J.League title in 2012. Two more championships followed in 2013 and 2015 and he then took over Japan’s under-23 team last year in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games that will be held in Tokyo.
Moriyasu’s appointment is expected to be announced on Thursday following a meeting of the JFA’s executive committee.