Japan sack boss Halilhodzic just two months from World Cup

10 April, 2018, 20:08 | Author: Inez Murphy
  • BC-SOC--Japan Coach,3rd Ld-Writethru

JFA technical director Akira Nishino has been brought in as Halilhodzic's replacement with only ten weeks before Japan kick off their World Cup campaign.

Nishino, who earned 12 caps for Japan as a player, has previously managed the Samurai Blue at youth level, including their under-23s at the 1996 Olympics, in which he oversaw a 1-0 win against a Brazil side containing Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Rivaldo.

Japan faces a tough group, with opening matches against Colombia and Senegal before it faces off against Poland.

Japan has never advanced beyond the second round, and will be making its sixth straight appearance in the upcoming World Cup. But in 2012 he wrote a newspaper column on "the thrills of attacking football", setting out an offensive style of play.

The 65-year-old from Bosnia Herzegovina became the first Japan head coach to be fired after the national team booked a spot in the finals.

"We came to this decision because I thought this could increase the chances of the team winning - even if it's just by a little", Tashima said.

Halilhodzic, who recovered from being wounded in 1992 during the Bosnian war, insisted he was no "dictator" - but acknowledged his frank approach was capable of "wounding" some people in Japan.

"Sometimes I'd really like them to be more aggressive, more street-smart, more vicious", said the former Nantes and Paris Saint-Germain striker.

The end for the Bosnian came in two global friendlies last month against non-World Cup teams.

However, Japan were defeated on home soil 4-1 by South Korea in the final match of the 2017 EAFF E-1 Football Championship.

On Monday when the news of his departure was confirmed, the Nikkan Sports daily stated: "the association made the decision as it has a growing sense of crisis over the team's performance which has shown no sign of improvement with fewer than 70 days until the World Cup".

The Japanese qualified for the finals for the first time in 1998 and have been present at the World Cup ever since.

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