Japan's new national soccer coach says he is resolved to create a team that will be fit to compete in the FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.
Akira Nishino met reporters on Thursday after replacing Vahid Halilhodzic earlier this week. Nishino was appointed just 2 months before the World Cup opens in June.
Nishino said he feels great responsibility for his new role. He pledged to unite the squad and take it to the knockout stage.
The Japan Football Association terminated the contract with Halilhodzic, saying he has been struggling to communicate with the players.
Nishino said he was asked in late March if he was ready to become the new coach. He added that he was eager to support Halilhodzic at that point.
He noted that this was after the team had performed poorly in 2 matches in Europe. He said he was considering at the time how he could dramatically change the team in just 2 months as the technical director of the association.
Nishino said he was perplexed, but finally made up his mind to take full responsibility for the team.
He said he hopes he can help the players to give their best in the World Cup.
He says he will keep his predecessor's strategies where necessary, but will aim to develop a style that emphasizes team play and technique.
Nishino managed top-tier J-League clubs before serving as the association's technical director for 2 years.
He also led Japan's U-23 team for 2 years until 1996.
In the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Japan defeated Brazil 1-0. Japanese media and soccer fans refer to this game as the "miracle of Miami."
JFA President Kohzo Tashima said a new team is now starting under Nishino's leadership.
Tashima stressed that the Japanese players will make all-out efforts for the World Cup, and will use the wisdom and know-how accumulated by national teams in the past.