Japan sack Vahid Halilhodzic ahead of World Cup

Japan sack Vahid Halilhodzic ahead of World Cup

Japan sack Vahid Halilhodzic ahead of World Cup

The dismissal has been months in the making, with Japan suffering several embarrassing losses and rumours swirling about tensions caused by Halilhodzic's infamously undiplomatic coaching style.

The JFA opted for Nishino because he was a former technical director of the Federation and possesses intimate knowledge of the national team and its set up.

But recent pressure appears to have weighed down the team.

He has regularly been forced to deny rumours he was close to being fired, and in September said he had no plans to step aside despite harsh criticism. Halilhodžić had taken helm at the Japanese national team in 2015, and the squad have qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup which Russian Federation will host.

The 63-year-old Nishino, who spent 10 seasons in charge of Gamba Osaka, was at the helm for one of Japanese football's greatest moments - a 1-0 win over a Brazil side containing Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo at the 1996 Olympic Games.

Other candidates reportedly include Hajime Moriyasu, current coach of Japan's under-21 team, and Makoto Teguramori, who is on Halilhodzic's coaching staff. Association president Kozo Tashima cited "communication" problems in explaining the firing and said the Bosnian had lost the trust of his players.

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He guided them to the 2018 World Cup-their sixth consecutive qualification for football's biggest tournament-after they overcame the likes of Saudi Arabia and Australia to top Asia's qualifying Group B. It salvaged a 1-1 draw on the last kick of the game in a friendly against Mali, and days later lost to Ukraine 2-1.

"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.

By this stage, only a strong World Cup showing would see his contract extended beyond the summer but two more below-par friendly results - a draw with Mali and defeat to Ukraine - saw Halilhodzic dismissed.

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

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

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