Postecoglou extends contract in Japan as title race heats up

The Sydney Morning Herald Sports 4 days ago

Ange Postecoglou has extended his contract with J.League title contenders Yokohama F. Marinos for a further season as the former Socceroos boss closes in on another piece of major silverware.

The new deal keeps Postecoglou tied to the club for the 2020 campaign, which could include a trip home to face an A-League club as part of the AFC Champions League.

In just his second year in Japan, Postecoglou's team is one point adrift of top spot with three matches to go following an entertaining 4-2 victory over Consadole Sapporo on Saturday.

The J.League title race looks like it could be decided on the last day of the season, when Yokohama F. Marinos - part-owned by the City Football Group - are due to host current league leaders FC Tokyo on December 7.

Marinos are three-time winners of the J.League and a traditional powerhouse of Japanese football, but have not finished on top of the table since 2004.

Postecoglou, 54, has claimed titles with South Melbourne in the old National Soccer League and Brisbane Roar in the A-League, as well as famously guiding the Socceroos to victory in the the 2015 Asian Cup final on home soil.

Ange Postecoglou quit as Socceroos coach after sealing qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

But seizing the J.League crown with Marinos would arguably be his finest achievement given the short amount of time he has been in the job, the challenges associated with coaching in a foreign country and the state the club were in when he took over.

After his still-mysterious decision to quit as Socceroos coach after clinching qualification for last year's World Cup, Postecoglou faced a relegation battle in his first season in Japan, eventually steering his side to 12th position on the table.

Twelve months on, Postecoglou is beloved by Marinos supporters, and his players seem to have fully bought into his philosophy after playing some scintillating football this season. It would not surprise in the slightest if clubs from Europe soon came calling for his services.

Midway through the year, Postecoglou's methods earned high praise from Pep Guardiola after a 3-1 friendly defeat to Manchester City, in which Yokohama F. Marinos enjoyed an unfathomable 58 per cent of possession against the English Premier League champions, who were touring in pre-season mode.

"People will say it was a friendly game, in pre-season, they didn’t take it too seriously but I would hazard to guess how many times a team coached by Pep has been out-possessed," Postecoglou told Optus Sport in September.

"I hear people say possession doesn’t mean anything. I think it does, particularly when it is possession in meaningful areas, not just at the back, and creating problems.

"But it takes a bit of courage and conviction to take on a team like City or coached by someone like Pep – because there is the fear that if it goes really badly you can be very exposed."

Yokohama F. Marinos next face second-bottom Matsumoto Yamaga away on November 23, then travel to face fourth-placed Kawasaki Frontale a week later.


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