Japan sack their manager ahead of the 2018 World Cup

BC-SOC--Japan Coach,3rd Ld-Writethru

The Japan Football Association yesterday sacked its national coach Vahid Halilhodzic just two months before the World Cup, replacing him with its technical director Akira Nishino. With AP Photos.Japanese news agency Kyodo has reported national team head coach Vahid Halilhodzic has been fired following two disappointing worldwide friendly matches and with the World Cup in Russian Federation just over two months away.

The JFA said it told Halilhodzic of its decision on Saturday with Nishino coming to the job after managing Gamba for 10 seasons; winning the league in 2005 and the Asian Championship League in 2008. "It's all about results in this game". Halilhodzic is also believed to have lost the support of his dressing room. Japan newspaper, Hochi Daily also reported that a sense of unity was lacking between the players and the coach. The Japan Football Association is dissatisfied with the results of the friendlies which the national team have played so far in the current year.

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

"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.

It will be the sixth successive World Cup appearance by the Blue Samurai, who made it to the last 16 in 2002 when Japan co-hosted the tournament with South Korea and again in 2010.

The Japanese qualified for the finals for the first time in 1998 and have been present at the World Cup ever since. And the JFA had been hoping Halilhodzic could create a similar breakthrough for Japan.

However, the disappointing performance of the Japanese team in recent games, coupled with the team's dissatisfaction with the Bosnian coach, have pushed the JFA to terminate the contract with Halilhodzic.

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

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

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