Nishino takes charge of Japan

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

JFA technical director Akira Nishino has been chosen as Halilhodzic's replacement with just 10 weeks to go until Japan kick off their World Cup campaign.

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.

By this stage, only a strong World Cup showing would see his contract extended beyond the summer but two more below-par friendly results - a draw with Mali and defeat to Ukraine - saw Halilhodzic dismissed. "It's all about results in this game". Japan newspaper, Hochi Daily also reported that a sense of unity was lacking between the players and the coach.

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

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.

"No progress, no hope, lots of worries over the World Cup", blared a headline in the Sports Nippon last month, raising the prospect that Japan might lose all its group games in June. This time the JFA parted ways with the Bosnian after a crisis meeting decided Halilhodzic's time with Japan was up.

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The former Paris Saint-Germain boss now faces a summer without a World Cup, just as he did eight years ago when Ivory Coast fired him four months before the tournament began.

The tournament in Russian Federation will be the sixth successive World Cup appearance by the Blue Samurai, who made it to the last 16 in 2002 when Japan co-hosted the tournament with South Korea and again in 2010.

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

Japan is scheduled to play against Colombia on June 19, which will be their first game in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, in Russian Federation.

Before moving to Japan, Halilhodzic took Algeria to the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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