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Get down to work straight away

Holger Osieck was at Franz Beckenbauer’s side when Germany won the FIFA World Cup TM in 1990. He then went on to coach Bochum, Fenerbahce, Urawa Red Diamonds and Kocaelispor, and in 2001, he guided Canada to a surprise Gold Cup triumph. Osieck, 58, was also FIFA’s head of technical development from 2004 to early 2007 before deciding to return to Japan, signing a two-year contract with Urawa Red Diamonds. Osieck talks about what he hopes to achieve with the number one team in Japanese club football.

Question: What were the reasons behind your return to coaching?
Holger Osieck: The club really wanted me. They made me an offer, I thought about it for a while, and then I accepted. I couldn’t do so without first speaking to FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, who gave me the go-ahead. He showed a lot of understanding for my position.

Question: There will be huge expectations you when you return to your old club. After all, your predecessor, Guido Buchwald, won the double with Urawa in 2006.
Holger Osieck: As a coach, you always have to deal with the pressure of expectation when tou start a new job, but the double certainly hasn’t made my job any easier. I know that it will be difficult. I have two main objectives – first of all, I want to make sure that we stay in the same position domestically; secondly, I want us to make our mark internationally, and that means in the AFC Champions League.

Question: You will have to do so without Japanese international Alex dos Santos, who has moved to Red Bull Salzburg. How big a loss will he be?
Holger Osieck: It is never easy to replace such a technically gifted, experienced international, but that will make my job even more alluring. It is now down to me to find a suitable replacement.

Question: Will it be an advantage to return to a club you already know?
Holger Osieck: Yes, because I won’t need time to adjust. In my first spell in Japan, it took me around six months to understand the mentality of the players. This time I’ll be able to get down to work straight away.

Question: How does Japanese club football compare to the game in other countries?
Holger Osieck: It’s hard to say because Japanese teams rarely play competitively against European or South American clubs. Football in Japan is quick and technically very good.

Question: How will you remember your time at FIFA?
Holger Osieck: It was a good opportunity for me to be at the very heart of international tournaments. As the head of the Technical Study Group, I was responsible for analyzing the competitions. That helped me to glean an excellent impression of football in various age groups, knowledge that will now stand me in good stead for my work as a coach. I also appreciated the pleasant working conditions with a very nice group of colleagues. I certainly enjoyed my time at FIFA very much.