Football: Zaccheroni believes in Japan resilience

OSAKA, March 26, 2011 (AFP) - Japan's national football coach Alberto Zaccheroni believes his adopted country will bounce back from its quake-tsunami disaster, and says his native Italy is ready to help.

"After spending several months as national coach, I feel that Japan is my home and I am Japanese myself," the 57-year-old former AC Milan boss told domestic media after arriving in Osaka.

"When I think of the victims, I feel hurt like everybody else in the nation."

The Blue Samurai, who won a record fourth Asian Cup in January with Zaccheroni in charge, are due to face a J-League select team for a charity match in Osaka on Tuesday to help victims of the catastrophe.

"Japan is a country that never stops, a country that is always moving forward. The Japanese are famous for helping each other as one," he said.

"I want to use the match as the first step in cooperating with the reconstruction work."

Zaccheroni, who stayed in Italy with his family after the March 11 disaster, said Inter Milan manager Leonardo and the Italian Football Federation had offered to support Japan, possibly by playing charity matches.

Leonardo, a Brazilian, played in Japan from 1994 to 1996 with J-League side Kashima Antlers.

"Leonardo told me he wants to come to Japan and do what he can and the Italian football association has also said it wants to do something to help," Zaccheroni said.

"I want to make arrangements for such games," he added. "We need to find possible dates."

The J-League has been suspended until April 23 because of electricity shortages caused by tsunami damage to power facilities, including a crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear plant.

It is seeking to reschedule the cancelled games for a summer break in July, when the national team are due to compete in the South American championship Copa America as guests.

Zaccheroni said he had yet to decide how to respond to a request from the J-League that Japan withdraw from the tournament.

"I want to think about it after understanding the situation," he said.

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