Japan dismisses coach Halilhodzic ahead of FIFA World Cup

Vahid Halilhodzic has lost his job as Japan coach just two months before the World Cup begins

Nishino, who spent 10 seasons in charge of Gamba Osaka in 2016, will have little time to prepare for the World Cup, where Japan are drawn in Group H alongside Colombia, Poland and Senegal.

Japan's Kyodo news agency cites football association president Kozo Tashima in announcing the move on Monday.

A former worldwide midfielder who won 12 caps for his country, Nishino is best known for his stint at the helm of Gamba Osaka and he took the club to their first Asian Club Championship in 2008.

Nishino will have about two months to turn around the Samurai Blue before its first game in group play in the World Cup on June 19 against Colombia.

The straight-talking Halilhodzic was also reported to have ruffled feathers in the dressing room with his no-nonsense approach.

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.

He said he had given the news over the weekend to Halilhodzic, who had reacted with a mixture of confusion and anger.




He guided them to the 2018 World Cup-their sixth consecutive qualification for football's biggest tournament-after they overcame the likes of Saudi Arabia and Australia to top Asia's qualifying Group B.

Japanese global 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.

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.

The nation shares a fierce rivalry with South Korea and such an admission of underperformance - alongside the result itself, a 4-1 defeat - ensured he was hounded by the national press.

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

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

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