Japan fires football coach months before World Cup

Japan fires football coach months before World Cup

Japan fires football coach months before World Cup

After guiding Japan to a first place finish in their AFC qualifying group previous year, Halilhodzic's position as manager came under scrutiny when his side's form dropped over the March internationals.

The luck has turned for the manager: with just two wins in eight games which followed including some particularly damaging results.

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.

Hairstylist Haruto Minami, 20, meanwhile, showed some understanding of the decision, saying Halilhodzic may have come under fire from players and other coaches for not sufficiently using 31-year-old Keisuke Honda, a former AC Milan attacking midfielder now playing in Mexico.

Nishino will have only 70 days with the Blue Samurai before they play their first match against Colombia in a tough World Cup pool that also includes Poland and Senegal.

Halilhodzic was one of the few managers to emerge from the 2014 World Cup with his reputation enhanced due to his success with Algeria, whom he guided to the knockout stages.

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In 2010, Ivory Coast dismissed Halilhodzic with months left until the kick-off of the World Cup in South Africa.

The Japanese qualified for the finals for the first time in 1998 and have been present at the World Cup ever since.

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.

The 65-year-old, who hails from Bosnia-Herzegovina, steered Japan to Russian Federation as group winners in their AFC qualifying group, but is believed to have been under pressure following the 1-1 draw against Mali and 2-1 defeat versus Ukraine in the March worldwide window.

South Korea's run to the semifinals in 2002, when it was co-hosting the tournament with Japan, remains the best run by an Asian team at the World Cup.

Bosnian Halilhodzic, 65, took over the Japanese national team in March 2015.

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