Russian Federation 2018: Japan Fires Coach

Clay Curtis
April 10, 2018

In 2010, Halilhodzic suffered a similar fate while at the helm of the Ivory Coast national team, helping them qualify for the World Cup and then being sacked just four months before the tournament.

Akira Nishino was on Monday named the head coach of Japan following the dismissal of Vahid Halilhodzic, just two months to the 2018 World Cup.

Combining skilled counter attacking play with his in-game management and motivational abilities, the North African side shone in Brazil.

Halilhodzic's reign with the Blue Samurai was not without controversy.

He ripped up the nation's decades-long tradition of focusing on ball retention, short passes and fluid movement. Instead, he favoured a more direct style of play with more emphasis on set-pieces, utilising the width of the pitch and launching swift counter-attacks - a trait which had proven successful with Algeria.

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.

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The 65-year-old guided Algeria to the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup, and he had been in charge of Japan for three years.

"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".

The humiliation by South Korea was no doubt the low point, but a failure to defeat Haiti alongside a March defeat to Ukraine left the Japanese FA with no choice. Comments made by the manager in the wake of the defeat, as quoted by the Japan Times, brought him in for more heavy criticism: "I was amazed by South Korea's explosiveness of power, technique and control of the game". "South Korea dominated us in every way".

It became obvious that Halilhodzic's job was dangling after a series of disappointing results, including a loss to Ukraine and a snatched draw with Mali from the last kick of the game.

He will have three friendly matches to prepare Japan for the World Cup, where they are drawn in Group H alongside Colombia, Poland and Senegal.

Halihodzic, who took over in March 2015, led the team to their sixth straight World Cup finals after they finished top of Asian qualifying Group B ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia.

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