Japan's Okada dismisses vote of confidence

October 19, 2008

TOKYO, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Under-fire Japan coach Takeshi Okada has shrugged off a vote of confidence from his employers, saying he already knew his job was in danger.

The 52-year-old was given the backing of Japan Football Association (JFA) President Motoaki Inukai after last week's 1-1 home draw with Uzbekistan in a World Cup qualifier.

"It makes no difference," Okada told Sunday's Japanese media. "I don't know if that's what (the JFA) are really thinking. I can only do my best to help the team win. It's the president's decision to replace the coach so please ask him!"

Japan's draw with Uzbekistan left them second behind Australia in Group One in the final round of Asian qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, above Qatar on goal difference.

Okada had already admitted next month's visit to Doha could be his last game in charge if Japan failed to come away with a point.

"I'll do what I have to do," he said. "Just because I have been told I won't be fired doesn't mean I can afford to relax. In order not to get sacked I have to carry on working hard."

Okada took the Japan job for the second time last December after former coach Bosnian Ivica Osim suffered a stroke but has faced criticism after a string of indifferent performances.

Three-times Asian champions Japan reached their first World Cup finals under Okada in 1998. They also qualified for the 2006 tournament in Germany.

Japan co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with South Korea and reached the last 16 but were overshadowed by the Koreans' run to the semi-finals.

The top two teams from each of the two five-nation groups qualify automatically for the 2010 finals in South Africa.