Ichiro Takes Over Reigns of National Team
Image property of the MFF
On 17 December 2021 it was announced that Japanese tactician Otsuka Ichiro will take over as head coach of the senior and under-23 mens national teams beginning January 2022. The coach joins the MFF as part of the ongoing partnership between the organization and the Japan Football Association.
The 57-year-old Ichiro holds an UEFA A license. He is perhaps best known for his 12-year tenure as head coach of Hokuriku Electric FC of the Japan Football League, the country's fourth-tier competition. Next he managed Singapore's Albirex Niigata FC from 2005 to 2006. Since 2012 he has been the manager of Toyama Daiichi High School FC but his long tenure will close at the end of December.
He had a brief playing career with Husei University and Furukawa SC before retiring in 1989.
Ichiro replaces his compatriot Shuichi Mase who was announced as manager of the same two teams in April 2021. The senior team won his only match in charge, a 1-0 victory over Kyrgyzstan to close out the second round of AFC 2022 World Cup qualification. Fans welcomed the stark contrast to the 0-14 thrashing at the hands of Japan just three months earlier.
Mase was set to manage the national under-23 side in 2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualification in October 2021 but was transported to Japan just days before the tournament began. At that time, it was reported that he had an unspecified eye injury, and the ever-reliable Mongolian Zorigtyn Battulga filled in on the bench for the tournament.
It has now been revealed that Mase suffers from an eye disease. The treatments that he will need to receive in Japan make it impossible to continue as Mongolia's manager.
Ichiro becomes Mongolia's fourth manager since January 2020 following the departure of Mase and Europeans Vojislav Bralušić and Rastislav Božik. The Mongolian Football Federation and its fans will hope for a long and successful tenure at the helm from a manager who has already spent over a decade in two coaching positions.