Japan football officials back Aguirre to stay on as coach
SYDNEY (AP) — The head of the Japan Football Association says Javier Aguirre will continue as coach of the national team despite elimination from the Asian Cup at the quarterfinal stage and ongoing investigations into his alleged involvement in match fixing.
Four-time champion Japan was eliminated by the United Arab Emirates from the Asian Cup on Friday, losing in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw.
In the buildup to the tournament, Aguirre — who formerly coached in Spanish club football — become embroiled in a match-fixing probe launched by Spain’s state prosecutor. Aguirre denies any wrongdoing.
“The case is still being officially investigated so we will not comment further until there is official clarification,” JFA head Kunia Daini said. “In this light, Aguirre will still continue.”
Daini said he was pleased with the performance of the team at the Asian Cup. Japan didn’t concede a goal in its three group stage matches.
“Since the coach has taken up the job he has done a really good job in getting the team together,” Daini said. “He has done really well on that front. ”
Aguirre was manager of Zaragoza when the team beat Levante 2-1 away at the end of the 2011 season and as a result avoided relegation to the second tier.
A complaint filed by prosecutors named Aguirre and players from both teams and Zaragoza officials for allegedly fixing that game.
In Spain, match-fixing is a crime that can lead to prison.