Japan fires football coach months before World Cup


Japan decide to part company with manager Vahid Halilhodzic, just two months ahead of their appearance at the World Cup.

Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic will be dismissed from his position as the head coach of Japan's national football team, colloquially known as the "Samurai Blue", despite his success in steering the team through the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds, reports Efe.

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. Nishino took the job as JFA technical director in 2016.

The head of the association praised Halilhodzic for helping Japan qualify for its 6th straight World Cup.

Japan is scheduled to play against Colombia on June 19, which will be their first game in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, in Russian Federation. "Nishino has seen the team more than anyone else and he will be our new manager", Tashima added.

Tashima said the reason for the sacking was that "communication and trust with players have become weakened".

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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.

Japanese worldwide and Southampton centre back Maya Yoshida has admitted his chock at the choice to replace the team's manager, but will focus on doing as well at the World Cup as possible as the countdown continues.

Japan will be playing in its sixth consecutive World Cup and has only twice reached the knockout round - losing both times in the last 16.

The tournament in Russian Federation 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.

He missed out on leading Ivory Coast during the tournament in 2010 when he was sacked as national coach just months before the finals following the team's disappointing performance in the African Cup of Nations.