Nishino takes charge of Japan

Nishino takes charge of Japan

Nishino takes charge of Japan

Halilhodzic being replaced comes just two months until the start of the World Cup finals in Russian Federation and despite the 65-year-old guiding Japan to its sixth straight appearance in the World Cup finals.

Japan on Monday named respected veteran Akira Nishino as its new national football manager, taking an "emergency measure" after sensationally dumping Vahid Halilhodzic only two months before the World Cup.

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

"We thought the new director should be appointed from inside, given we have just two months left before the World Cup", Japan Football Association President Kozo Tashima told reporters. Halilhodzic is also believed to have lost the support of his dressing room.

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.

The Sports Hochi daily said today "a sense of unity was lacking" between him and the team.

Japan will be playing in their sixth consecutive World Cup and have only twice reached the knockout round.

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The Bosnian manager coached Japan through their World Cup qualifying campaign and he led them to a direct qualification to the World Cup after leading their group.

"I can't believe they are doing this just before the World Cup", said Yukina Muranaka, 29, a Tokyoite who is planning to travel to watch Japan play in Russian Federation, calling the decision "poorly planned".

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.

It is not the first time Halilhodzic has been jettisoned just before a major tournament. 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.

The Franco-Bosnian was one of the managerial successes of the 2014 World Cup as he guided surprise-package Algeria beyond the group stages with a series of impressive performances.

Japan's next warm-up game for the World Cup is against Ghana on May 30.

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