Troussier wants to end career with Japan at home Olympics

AFP| Updated: Apr 19, 2014, 11:52 AM IST

Tokyo: Former Japan coach Philippe Troussier wants to end his career in the dugout by coaching the home country`s team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he told AFP.

The 59-year-old Frenchman, currently on a shortlist of candidates for the Morocco national job after three years in China, said it would be a perfect way to sign off after guiding Japan to the last 16 of the 2002 World Cup as co-hosts.

"It`s my dream to go back to Japan," Troussier said in a telephone interview from Paris on Friday. "I hope they consider me for the Olympic team for 2020. It would be a beautiful end to my career. That`s how I would like to go out, by coaching Japan`s Olympic team.

"I don`t want to return to the national team," added Troussier, who led Japan`s under-23 side to fifth place at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and their under-20s to the final of the 1999 world youth championship.

"But I would like to manage some program at youth level - from, say, 14 to 20 years old. That`s where Japan needs the knowledge and experience of foreign coaches."

Troussier, dubbed the "White Witch-doctor" after spells with Nigeria and Burkina Faso before moving to Japan in 1998, tipped the national team, known as the Blue Samurai, to reach the last 16 of this year`s World Cup in Brazil.

"For the first time we can say Japan must go through to the second round," he said. "If we don`t get through it would be a failure."

Still using "we" when talking about his former team, Troussier, whose Paris home is decorated with Japanese furniture, backed them to upset an ageing Ivory Coast in their Group C opener on June 14.

"Ivory Coast are a strong team," said Troussier. "But they are getting old and their success depends on (Didier) Drogba and Yaya Toure. Ivory Coast don`t have the strongest teamwork or unity. I believe Japan`s spirit and togetherness will overcome Ivory Coast`s individual potential.

"It`s not a group where you have to play Brazil, Germany or Argentina, and maybe the coaches of Greece and Colombia will also be happy about facing Japan. But Japan will be expected to get through. That`s the difference with past World Cups."

Japan reached the last 16 in South Africa four years ago, but Troussier often had to rely on shock tactics during his stewardship.

He famously ordered his players to dine outside of the team hotel in dimly lit Beirut at a time of heightened political tension during the 2000 Asian Cup, fed up with them playing video games in their rooms.

"I had a young team," said Troussier. "It was necessary to give them solutions to face the top teams. Now 90 percent of the national team play in Europe. (Japan coach Alberto) Zaccheroni doesn`t need to explain to them what to expect at the World Cup."

Troussier pointed to Manchester United`s Shinji Kagawa as a testament to Japan`s progress.

"He can change a game at any moment," he said. "During my time in Japan, people said Japan play football like girls. They didn`t respect Japan. People respect Japanese players now. They `re recognised around the world."