Russia 2018: Japan sack coach

World Cup 2018 By: Ayodeji Tunde | 09/04/2018

FC Naija

Vahid Halilhodzic has been relieved of his position as head coach of Japan, just two months before the World Cup begins in Russia.

Former Japan international Akira Nishino leaves his role as head of the JFA's technical committee to succeed him but will have only 10 weeks to prepare his players before their Group H opener against Colombia in Saransk on June 19.

"We thought the new director should be appointed from inside, given we have just two months left before the World Cup,” Japan Football Association President Kozo Tashima told reporters.

“We have asked Nishino to take this position as an emergency measure.”

A former international midfielder who won 12 caps for his country, Nishino is best known for his stint at the helm of Gamba Osaka, which he steered to the team’s first Asian Club Championship in 2008.

Halilhodzic was appointed in March 2015, having guided Algeria to the last 16 of the previous finals in Brazil, and the Blue Samurai advanced to Russia 2018 as winners of Group B in the Asian section of qualifying.

 But their preparations have been thrown into chaos with Monday's announcement that Halilhodzic has been sacked and Nishino - who guided Gamba Osaka to the J-League crown in 2005 and the AFC Champions League title in 2008 - confirmed as the 65-year-old's replacement.

Halilhodzic is no stranger to such last-minute turmoil, having been dismissed by Ivory Coast shortly ahead of the 2014 tournament in Brazil, before joining Algeria.