Japan sacks Halilhodzic 2 months ahead of the World Cup

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"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 said.

With just two months until the World Cup kicks off in Russian Federation, one of the 32 managers preparing for the finals has been sacked from his post.

It reached the knockout stage in 2002 under French coach Philippe Troussier - it was the co-host that year with South Korea - and again in 2010 under Japanese coach Takeshi Okada.

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Despite the famous win over Brazil in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Nishino came under fire for being overly defensive.

Halilhodzic steered Japan through qualifying to its sixth straight finals appearance, but the JFA told the 65-year-old from Bosnia Herzegovina their decision to dismiss him on Saturday, according to the association. It salvaged a 1-1 draw on the last kick of the game in a friendly against Mali, and days later lost 2-1 to Ukraine. "After the matches against Mali and the Ukraine, the relationship and trust between the coaches and the players broke down".

They begin the competition with a tough tie against Colombia on June 19, followed by encounters with Senegal and Poland to see out the group stages. Ange Postecoglou quit nearly immediately after Australia secured qualification for Russian Federation and has been replaced by Bert van Marwijk.

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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.

After being hired in March 2015, he steered the national team to qualification for the finals in Russian Federation in June but has since been panned for the team's showing in a series of recent worldwide friendlies. And the JFA had been hoping Halilhodzic could create a similar breakthrough for Japan. Japan, South Korea and Iran each had one draw and two losses and Australia lost all three matches in a group containing Netherlands, Chile and Spain.

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