Japan scramble for Russian Federation 2018, replacing Halilhodzic with Nishino

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

Bosnian manager, Vahid Halilhodzic, has been sacked from his position as Japan national team manager only two months ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

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.

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

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

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. Association president Kozo Tashima cited "communication" problems in explaining the firing and said the Bosnian had lost the trust of his players.

He said he had given the news over the weekend to Halilhodzic, who had reacted with a mixture of confusion and anger. However, further criticism was to follow with poor performances and results in the eight matches played since qualification was secured.

Japan, South Korea and Australia - traditionally, Asia's most powerful teams - struggled in World Cup qualifying before advancing.

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He once reportedly banned his players from smiling, and he found himself in trouble with authorities on two separate occasions after traffic accidents in 2015 and 2017.

"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.

Comments made by the manager in the wake of the defeat, as quoted by the Japan Times, brought him in for more heavy criticism: "I was amazed by South Korea's explosiveness of power, technique and control of the game".

However, it was not a smooth path through to the finals.

Nishino becomes the second Japanese to serve as head coach of the Japanese national team.

Before moving to Japan, Halilhodzic took Algeria to the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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