New Hangzhou coach Okada aims to beat Barca
Updated: 2011-12-28 17:11
Takeshi Okada, the first Japanese coach in the Chinese Super League history, waves to local fans as he arrives at a training base of the Hangzhou Greentown football club in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, Dec 24, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]
TOKYO - New Hangzhou Greentown coach Takeshi Okada, famed for his confident predictions, left his players at the Chinese side laughing at him when he boldly told them he was targeting victory over Barcelona at the Club World Cup next year.
The former Japan coach Okada, who was appointed last week, has bold plans for the future of his new club. "I want to win the Asian Champions League, go to the Club World Cup and beat Barcelona," Okada told Japanese media at the Japan Football Association.
"I told the players and they laughed. But it's not impossible." Having only signed a one-year contract it is highly unlikely, however.
Okada made the Japanese nation cringe in the build-up to the 2010 World Cup by sticking to his audacious target of reaching the semi-finals while his team were suffering regular defeats.
To the astonishment of many, the Blue Samurai stunned Cameroon and Denmark to reach the last 16 in South Africa before bowing out on penalties to Paraguay.
Okada's deal with the Chinese Super League club came as a bolt from the blue with J-League side Urawa Reds also chasing his signature. "It was a gut instinct," said Okada.
"I told the owner he had guts naming a Japanese coach," Okada said. "He told me he's already getting stick and admits it's a risk but the team has potential.
"Hopefully it can be the start of something big," added Okada, who coached Yokohama F-Marinos to back-to-back J-League titles in 2003 and 2004.
"I gave it a lot of thought," said the 55-year-old, who also led Japan to their first World Cup finals in 1998.
"A job in the J-League would be easier and less risky, but it just didn't feel right. This challenge excites me."
Japanese coach Takeshi Okada (L) and general manager of the Hangzhou Greentown football club Shen Qiang demonstrate a special jersey for Okada during a press conference to introduce Okada as Hangzhou's new head coach in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, Dec 25, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]