Soccer-Vissel Kobe appoint ex-Japan international Miura as manager

Sept 24 (Reuters) - Vissel Kobe have appointed former Japan midfielder Atsuhiro Miura as their new manager to replace German Thorsten Fink, the J-League club said on Thursday.

Fink, who guided Kobe to their first Emperor’s Cup title as well as the Japanese Super Cup, stepped down as manager this week, with the German saying he had decided to return to his family.

Miura, who has served as Kobe’s sporting director since 2018, will take charge of the side for Saturday’s league game against Consadole Sapporo.

“As our sports director since 2018, Miura knows the characteristics of the soccer and kind of team we’re aiming for. He’s the most qualified person,” Kobe President Yozo Tachibana was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency.

Kobe, who are captained by former Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, are 11th in the J-League standings with 23 points from 20 games.

However, they are poised to make a deep run in the Asian Champions League, which was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic but resumed earlier this month in the West Asia hub of Qatar.

Kobe, who top Group G in the East Zone with two wins from two games, will resume their campaign against Guangzhou Evergrande on Nov. 25 in Malaysia. (Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing)