12:30-13:30 Monday, December 16, 2013
Head Coach of the Japan National Football Team
Alberto Zaccheroni made an immediate impact after becoming head coach of Japan's men's national football team, the Samurai Blue, in September 2010 by beating one of the giants of the game, Argentina, 1-0 in October of that year.
Zaccheroni cemented his place in the hearts of Japanese football fans by taking them to the final of the Asian Cup in Qatar where they beat an old foe, Australia, 1-0 after extra time, and the Samurai Blue were unbeaten throughout the finals of Asia's premier competition.
He has further burnished his credentials by steering Japan into the World Cup finals next year in Brazil, becoming the first country to qualify for the tournament with a dramatic 1-1 draw with Australia in the qualifying rounds in June. It was a feat Japan also achieved in the 2008 World Cup in a game against the same opponents.
The Italian should be pleased with Japan's draw in next year's tournament, having avoided powerhouses of the sport in the group stage. Yet Colombia, Greece and the Ivory Coast will be no pushovers, and qualification for the knock-out stages could see Japan matched up against his homeland in the last 16.
Zaccheroni's stewardship of the Japanese national team has not been without scandal, though, and there was uproar last year when the men's team flew to the Olympics business class, while the women's team, the reigning world champions, sat in economy.
Born in 1962 and a native of Italy, Zaccheroni spent his whole coaching career in Italy before taking the job of managing the Japanese team. During that period he managed Serie A powerhouses, including Juventus, Internationale Milano and AC Milan, where he won the league in the 1998-99 season.Come and listen to him expound his views on Japan's chances at the World Cup in Brazil next year.