Japan sack boss Halilhodzic just two months from World Cup
10 April 2018, 06:59 | Robert Harris
Vahid Halilhodzic has been sacked as Japan head coach only two months out from the start of the 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. Kyodo cites football association president Kozo Tashima in announcing the move.
A 1-1 draw against Mali followed soon by a 2-1 defeat to Ukraine left many wondering over his future, but the former Bosnia global has now been relieved of his duties after being informed on Saturday afternoon (prior to the official announcement on Monday), according to Goal.
Japan faces a tough group in June, with opening matches against Colombia and Senegal before it faces off against Poland.
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.
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 set up some friendlies after we got into the World Cup but finally we chose to fire him two days ago.
Before moving to Japan, Halilhodzic took Algeria to the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
South Korea fired coach Uli Stielike previous year and replaced him with Shin Tae-yong. The team recently suffered a tie and a loss to teams that hadn't even qualified for the World Cup.
This isn't the first time Halilhodzic has been fired just before a World Cup.
After being hired in March 2015, he steered the national team to qualification for the finals in Russian Federation in June but has since been panned for the team's showing in a series of recent worldwide friendlies.
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. After advancing to the second round in the 2010 finals in South Africa, Japan were eliminated in the group stage of the following tournament with two defeats and a goalless draw.
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