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 By John Duerden

Japan courting Jurgen Klinsmann, South Korea deny Luiz Felipe Scolari links

Jurgen Klinsmann is top of the list to become the next coach of the Japan national team, according to reports in Tokyo.

The Samurai Blue exited the 2018 World Cup at the second-round stage on Monday following a thrilling 3-2 defeat at the hands of Belgium in Rostov.

Coach Akira Nishino was appointed in April on a short-term contract until the end of the tournament and is expected to step down officially in the next few days.

National newspapers Sports Nippon and Daily Sports are reporting that the Japan Football Association has already started negotiations with Klinsmann, the former Germany and United States coach, and are ready to offer the 1990 World Cup winner €2 million a year.

The JFA are keen to have everything sorted quickly, with the 2019 Asian Cup taking place in January.

"it is not an easy decision but we can't take too much time. We hope to decide in July," JFA boss Kozo Tashima said on Tuesday.

The national team are next in action in a friendly in Sapporo on Sept. 7 and want someone at the helm with World Cup experience. Klinsmann took Germany to the last four in 2006 and the United States to the second round in 2014.

Klinsmann was complimentary about Japan following the last-minute loss to Belgium though pointed out they were too open in the final seconds.

"The way Japan came out ... and started to go forward was just impressive," the German said on BBC's World Cup coverage. "Japan will regret the last two minutes, they threw everything forward."

Meanwhile, the Korea Football Association has denied reports that they have approached Luiz Felipe Scolari to be the next coach of the national team.

Media outlets in Scolari's homeland of Brazil had claimed that South Korea been negotiating with the 2002 World Cup winner and are ready to make an offer.

In a statement released Wednesday morning Seoul time, the KFA denied any such contact.

"Reports that we have approached Scolari are unfounded," the statement said, adding that there had been no meeting of the KFA technical committee which is responsible for the national team.

"There has been no approach to any coach at all."

The Taeguk Warriors returned home last week from the 2018 World Cup, where defeats against Sweden and Mexico were followed by a stunning win over defending champions Germany. Despite that 2-0 victory, Korea were eliminated at the group stage, failing to meet the set target of reaching the second round.

The contract of coach Shin Tae-yong, appointed in July 2017, expires later this month. There has been no official comment on whether Shin is to be offered an extension but the coach has told domestic media that he is thinking deeply about his future.

Scolari, 69, left Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande in November after leading the team to three Chinese Super League titles and the 2015 AFC Champions League.

Asian expert John Duerden is the author of Lions and Tigers: Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.Twitter: @JohnnyDuerden.

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