Russian Federation 2018: Japan Fires Coach

Russian Federation 2018: Japan Fires Coach

Former Gamba Osaka boss and Japan Football Association technical director Akira Nishino will replace Vahid Halilhodzic as Japan head coach with two months remaining until the start of the World Cup finals in Russian Federation, the association announced Monday.

Nishino is now the Technical Director of the Japan Football Association and has managed top-tier J-League teams.

He had 12 caps for his country and was in charge of Gamba Osaka team's that won their first Asian Club Championship in 2008.

The Japanese will face Colombia, Senegal and Poland in group play in the World Cup. Halilhodzic is also believed to have lost the support of his dressing room.

The luck has turned for the manager: with just two wins in eight games which followed including some particularly damaging results.

Despite an inconsistent campaign, the former Paris Saint-Germain boss guided Japan to World Cup qualification with 20 points from 10 group matches and topping the group ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia.

"For the new coach, we had no choice but to promote from within the association as the World Cup is only two months away", Tashima added.

Franco-Bosnian 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.

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".

Japan's next warm-up game for the World Cup is against Ghana on May 30.

The nation shares a fierce rivalry with South Korea and such an admission of underperformance - alongside the result itself, a 4-1 defeat - ensured he was hounded by the national press.

It is not the first time Halilhodzic has been jettisoned just before a major tournament.

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

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