Japan names new coach just before World Cup

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. AFP

BC-SOC--Japan Coach,3rd Ld-Writethru

The straight-talking Vahid Halilhodzic (pic) has made few concessions in Japan's famously polite society, and his style reportedly stirred tensions between the coach and the dressing room.

"We came to this decision because I thought this could increase the chances of the team winning - even if it's just by a little", Tashima said. In addition, some players are not happy with the work method of this 65-year-old Bosnian football specialist. With AP Photos.Japan fired coach Vahid Halilhodzic two months before the World Cup and immediately replaced him with Akira Nishino.

"To those who attacked me I say: bad luck for you because I'm going to carry on doing my job", Halilhodzic is cited as saying by News Channel Asia in September, after progress to this summer's tournament had been ensured.

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.

Despite an inconsistent campaign, the former Paris Saint-Germain boss guided Japan to World Cup qualification with 20 points from 10 group matches and topping the group ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia.

The end for Halilhodzic came in two global friendlies last month in Europe against non-World Cup teams.

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Despite qualifying for the World Cup, Japan has struggled in recent worldwide fixtures, with local sports media fuming after the team tasted defeat in March against Ukraine and scraped a draw with Mali with the last kick of the game.

He also helped them qualify for the World Cup only to be axed just four months before the tournament in South Africa. This time the JFA parted ways with the Bosnian after a crisis meeting decided Halilhodzic's time with Japan was up.

Halilhodzic was hired in March 2015 after leading Algeria to the knockout stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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.

South Korea's run to the semifinals in 2002 as co-host remains the best run by an Asian team at the World Cup.

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