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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Osim Jr. feels the pressure

Dad Ivica proving a tough act to follow at JEF

Staff writer

The pressure is on Amar Osim this season -- and doesn't he know it.

News photo
News photo Seiichiro Maki, JEF United Chiba's international striker, will be hoping he can provide the goals in 2007 that will relieve the pressure on coach Amar Osim (left). KYODO/YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTOS

The JEF United Chiba coach took over from father and Japan national team coach Ivica Osim midseason last year and saw his team retain the Nabisco Cup with a victory over Kashima Antlers but finish a disappointing 11th in the J. League.

Following in his father's footsteps -- Ivica nearly led JEF to the league title in 2005 and won the Nabisco Cup -- seems to be taking its toll on the 39-year-old coach, who sounded as though he had the world on his shoulders when talking to The Japan Times.

"It's tough -- it's more difficult for me for obvious reasons," Osim said, referring to the pressure he has faced since taking the reins from his father.

"I hope that we will be better in the championship than we were last year. It won't be easy, but I hope we will be better and have an easier season."

Osim believes JEF's brilliant showing in 2005 under his father raised false expectations last year, and the club's 11th-place showing is a better reflection of its stature.

"I think it depends how you look at it. Last season's finish was maybe closer to our normal position than fifth or sixth position, so everybody should be aware that maybe we are not so good, and if we know that, we will react differently," Osim said.

"That's why it is not so bad to be in 11th position."

Osim has not been helped in his preparations for the new season by an exodus of players, with captain Yuki Abe's transfer to Urawa Reds the biggest blow.

Mario Haas, Nebojsa Krupnikovic and Masataka Sakamoto also have departed.

Serbian central defender Nenad Djordjevic has arrived, but new signings have been at a premium, with the coach's hands tied by financial restrictions placed on him by JEF.

"We are not such a rich club, and we are limited a little bit," Osim said. "We lost two regular members. It won't be so easy to replace them."

Osim is hoping Japan striker Seiichiro Maki can rebound after a disappointing 2006, when he became a national team mainstay but scored only 12 league goals.

"Maki is sharper than he was last week or month. That's OK," said Osim.

"Maki played very well one year ago, more than his potential suggested. So everybody expects him to always play well. He played a lot of games and achieved a lot and it's logical that after such achievements you go down a little bit. He hit a wall.

"I hope he will be fresher mentally as he was last year. I hope this year again he will have some hunger."

The departed Abe compensated for the misfiring Maki by weighing in with 11 league goals last season, and Osim is concerned over his club's lack of activity in securing another goalscorer to support Maki.

"Urawa bought Washington because they knew he would give them 25 goals. It's not a guarantee, but we cannot afford such players," Osim said.

See related stories:
Captain Sato wants 3rd cup triumph
S-Pulse's Fujimoto eyes national team
Manager Oliveira places faith in forwards
Vissel Kobe coach Matsuda welcomes changing of the guard
German Osieck embraces Reds challenge
Sef tips Grampus young guns

Urawa Reds Kawasaki Frontale Gamba Osaka
Shimizu S-Pulse Jubilo Iwata Kashima Antlers
Nagoya Grampus Eight Oita Trinita Yokohama F. Marinos
Sanfrecce Hiroshima JEF United Chiba Omiya Ardija
FC Tokyo Albirex Niigata Ventforet Kofu
Yokohama FC Kashiwa Reysol Vissel Kobe

J. League Schedule J. League Team Guide

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