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Coaches under pressure in East Asia clash
by Paul Kennedy, February 12th, 2010 12:37AM



[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN] Old enemies Japan and South Korea meet Sunday in Tokyo in the East Asian Championship. The game has been billed the "dismissal derby" after poor performances by both teams have put pressure on the coaches of the World Cup finalists.

South Korea is coming off a 3-0 defeat to China, its first loss to China in 26 games, while Japan was booed off the field when it was held to a 0-0 tie by China three days after another goalless draw at home against a makeshift Venezuela team at the Kirin Cup.

"We have problems," said Japan FA president Motoaki Inukai. "One hundred eighty minutes without a goal. If we play like that at the World Cup we don't stand a chance. I want the supporters to boo their hearts out. It's good for the players."

The 0-0 ties were followed by an un convincing 3-0 win over Hong Kong, but Japan coach Takeshi Okada insisted his team will be ready against South Korea.

"I've used a lot of players in the last three games against Venezuela, China and now Hong Kong," he said, "and it will be my best team that plays he next game."

South Korea coach Huh Jung-moo played down the loss to China.

"That unbeaten record had to end one day," Huh said. "But we had a few players come into the side who weren't in tune with the way we play."

The Korean press speculated that Huh or Okada would be fired if his team lost on Sunday.

"I'm not afraid," Huh said. "We have to accept the result against China, analyze our mistakes and fix them in time for the Japan game."

The coach of one World Cup finalist -- Nigeria's Shaibu Amodu -- has been dismissed this winter, and Ivory Coast coach Vahid Halilhodzic is rumored to be on his way out following the Elephants' 3-2 loss to Algeria in the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

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