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10 April 2018, 08:05 | Lucy Hill
Japan Replace Vahid Halilhodzic with Akira Nishino 2 Months Ahead of World Cup
Vahid Halilhodzic has reportedly been dismissed as Japan's head coach following two disappointing worldwide friendly matches and with the World Cup opening in just over two months.
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.
Japan'sKyodo news agency cites football association president Kozo Tashima in announcing the move on Monday.
But recent pressure appears to have weighed down the team.
Last September he fired back at critics and said he had no plans to step aside, despite calls for his resignation.
Local media reported several Japanese coaching veterans were in the running to replace Halilhodzic, including Akira Nishino, 63, the current technical director of the Japan Football Association.
Nishino, who earned 12 caps for Japan as a player, has previously managed the Samurai Blue at youth level, including their under-23s at the 1996 Olympics, in which he oversaw a 1-0 win against a Brazil side containing Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Rivaldo. Halilhodzic is also believed to have lost the support of his dressing room.
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But he said the coach has been struggling to get through to the players.
Japan, South Korea and Australia - traditionally, Asia's most powerful teams - struggled in World Cup qualifying before advancing.
"Sometimes I'd really like them to be more aggressive, more street-smart, more vicious", said the former Nantes and Paris Saint-Germain striker. This time the JFA parted ways with the Bosnian after a crisis meeting decided Halilhodzic's time with Japan was up. 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.
He also helped them qualify for the World Cup only to be axed just four months before the tournament in South Africa.
Japan has never advanced beyond the second round, and will be making its sixth straight appearance in the upcoming World Cup.
Before moving to Japan, Halilhodzic took Algeria to the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
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