Japan dismisses coach Halilhodzic ahead of FIFA World Cup

Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic
Japan's football team coach Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic. Reuters

The Japan Football Association (JFA) on Monday decided to dismiss the head coach of Japan's national team, just two months out from the 2018 World Cup, local media reported.

Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic will be dismissed from his position as the head coach of Japan's national football team, colloquially known as the "Samurai Blue", despite his success in steering the team through the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds, reports Efe.

The Japanese team recently failed to clinch a victory in recent friendlies against Mali and Ukraine, who did not even qualify for the event in Russia.

The decision is scheduled to be officially announced at a press conference on Monday here, during which the JTA will also reveal who will replace Halilhodzic as new head coach.

The new coach is expected to be among these shortlisted candidates: JFA's technical director Akira Nishino, an experienced J-League coach; Hajime Moriyasu, Japan's under-21 football team coach; and Makoto Teguramori, a member of Halilhodzic's coaching staff.

Halilhodzic assumed the head-coaching duty for Japan in March 2015, replacing his Mexican predecessor Javier Aguirre, and helped the national team secure their spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a record of 6 wins, 2 losses and 2 draws in the qualification round.

However, the disappointing performance of the Japanese team in recent games, coupled with the team's dissatisfaction with the Bosnian coach, have pushed the JFA to terminate the contract with Halilhodzic.

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

Japan and Colombia form parts of group H with two other teams, Senegal and Poland.