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 By Ian Holyman

Vahid Halilhodzic: 'I didn't deserve' Japan sacking so close to World Cup

Vahid Halilhodzic
Vahid Halilhodzic was surprisingly sacked as Japan's coach earlier this week.

Vahid Halilhodzic cannot get over his sacking by Japan with just over two months to go until the start of the World Cup, he has told Goal Croatia.

The former Paris Saint-Germain and Lille boss, who steered Algeria to the round of 16 of the 2014 World Cup, was laying plans for Japan's challenge when he was surprisingly removed from his position earlier this week and replaced by Akira Nishino.

It is similar to the situation Halilhodzic faced in 2010, when he sacked by Ivory Coast in February while...

 By John Duerden

Can Akira Nishino get Japan on course in time to make World Cup impact?

Akira Nishino's years of experience with Japanese football made him the obvious hire for the World Cup.

Just two months ahead of the 2018 World Cup, Akira Nishino has his hands full after being named as the new Japan coach on a Monday that will live long in the memory of football fans in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Dawn brought rumours that Vahid Halilhodzic, appointed in 2015, had been fired. The morning continued with reports that confirmed the Bosnian's exit and the afternoon ended with a Tokyo press conference that explained the thinking behind it. It was also used to announce that Nishino will...

Japan fire Vahid Halilhodzic, hire Akira Nishino before World Cup

Japan head coach Vahid Halilhodzic
Vahid Halilhodzic has reportedly parted ways with the Japan national team.

Japan fired coach Vahid Halilhodzic on Monday, two months before the World Cup, and immediately replaced him with Akira Nishino, the technical director of the Japanese soccer association.

To explain the abrupt firing, association president Kozo Tashima cited "communication" problems and his players losing trust in the coach.

"This has become an urgent situation," Tashima said. "For the new coach, we had no choice but to promote from within the association as the World Cup is only two months away,"...

 By John Duerden

Japan's form and style lacking as they get closer to the World Cup

Japan struggled in recent friendlies, falling to Ukraine and drawing with Mali.

Two months ahead of the World Cup should be a time for excitement and anticipation, but there are worries in Japan. On June 19, the Samurai Blue take on Colombia in the opening game of a Group H that also contains Senegal and Poland, and as coach Vahid Halilhodzic said in March, the Japanese are not ready.

When looking at results, the Bosnian seems right. Since qualification was secured in August with a win over Australia, Japan's form has been questionable, with just three wins out of nine friendly...

 By John Duerden

Asia's World Cup preparations: How are Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Australia set?

The FC crew debate the necessity of the March international break, weighing the positives for national team coaches ahead of the World Cup against the risks it poses for club teams.

All five Asian World Cup participants are busy in this international break. ESPN FC takes a look at where they all stand as Russia 2018 comes into view.


Opposition: Mali and Ukraine. After tests against Brazil and Belgium last year, Japan stay in Europe for what should be easier games.

The squad: Keisuke Honda returns for the first time since November while injuries rule out Shinji Kagawa and Premier League due Maya Yoshida and Shinji Okazaki. Yosuke Ideguchi -- the midfielder who scored the...