Published: Tue, April 10, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Japan replaces head coach Halilhodzic 2 months ahead of World Cup

Japan replaces head coach Halilhodzic 2 months ahead of World Cup

Akira Nishino was on Monday named the head coach of Japan following the dismissal of Vahid Halilhodzic, just two months to the 2018 World Cup.

Nishino was at the helm for one of Japanese football's greatest triumphs: a 1-0 group stage win at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics over a Brazil side containing Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos.

The Japanese will face Colombia, Senegal and Poland in group play in the World Cup.

The writing was on the wall for Halilhodzic after a series of disappointing results, including a loss to Ukraine and a snatched draw with Mali from the last kick of the game.

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Local media has reported tensions between Halilhodzic and his team over his undiplomatic style, with the Sports Hochi daily saying Monday "a sense of unity was lacking" between the coach and his players.

He said he had given the news over the weekend to Halilhodzic, who had reacted with a mixture of confusion and anger.

"I can't believe they are doing this just before the World Cup", said Yukina Muranaka, 29, a Tokyoite who is planning to travel to watch Japan play in Russian Federation, calling the decision "poorly planned". This time the JFA parted ways with the Bosnian after a crisis meeting decided Halilhodzic's time with Japan was up.

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

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Japanese worldwide and Southampton centre back Maya Yoshida has admitted his chock at the choice to replace the team's manager, but will focus on doing as well at the World Cup as possible as the countdown continues.

South Korea's run to the semifinals in 2002 as co-host remains the best run by an Asian team at the World Cup.

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

He missed out on leading Ivory Coast during the tournament in 2010 when he was sacked as national coach just months before the finals following the team's disappointing performance in the African Cup of Nations.

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Bosnian Halilhodzic, 65, took over the Japanese national team in March 2015.

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