Halilhodzic sacked by Japan two months before World Cup

With only two months until Russia 2018, Japan have parted company with head coach ​Vahid Halilhodzic and appointed Akira Nishino.

​Vahid Halilhodzic has been sacked as head coach of Japan, just two months before they begin their World Cup campaign.

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.

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.

"The communication and trust between him [Halilhodzic] and the players has become a little bit weaker after the Mali and Ukraine games," Japan Football Association president Kozo Tashima told a media conference.

"And after thinking through a lot of things comprehensively, we came to this conclusion.

"I would like to increase Japan's winning possibility at the World Cup even just by one per cent or two per cent. That's why we reached this conclusion.

"We have reckoned that the new manager has to be someone promoted from the team considering the World Cup is only two months away. It needs to be someone who has seen the team internally the most, so we decided to appoint Nishino."

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.

After facing Colombia, Japan take on Senegal and Poland.