Japan FA sets up inquiry into Asian Cup failure

Japan Football Association President Saburo Kawabuchi will assemble a special taskforce to look into the side's fourth-position finish in the AFC Asian Cup 2007, Japanese nmedia reported. Kawabuchi also questioned coach Ivica Osim's decision to leave the bench for his side's penalty shootout against Australia in the quarter-finals. "You have to ask if it's right for the coach to leave the bench for penalties," Kawabuchi was quoted in the Nikkan Sports daily. "There is no point keeping quiet about it. I am the only one who can talk to him on a level footing about things. We must appraise, debate and question things objectively."

Osim acknowledged he had left the bench before Japan's shootout with the Socceroos for fear of a heart attack but his training schedule could also be a subject of debate. The 66-year-old Bosnian often gave his players the morning off from training due to Hanoi's fierce heat but the team trained in intense humidity every evening. "They didn't even take one day off," said Kawabuchi, who called for drastic improvement ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. "They trained extremely hard between games. Is that really what we want to be doing at the World Cup too?"