After the 2015 Asian Cup, head coach Javier Aguirre quit halfway. The Japanese National Men's Soccer Team was in disarray, and the newly inaugurated head coach was Vahid Halilhodzic, the famous coach who once led Algeria to the final 16 in the FIFA World Cup Brazil.
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Vahid Halilhodzic is a soccer coach born in Bosnia Herzegovina. He's a very experienced great coach who used to lead African giants like CotedIvoire and famous French clubs such as Paris St Germain. He lays emphasis on one-to-one duel and is good at vertical quick counterattack tactics.
Halilhodzic Japan led by Halilhodzic had a good start with a 2-0 victory over Tunisia in the first game. In the following friendly matches they also got successively wins, which added momentums to FIFA World Cup Russia Asian qualifiers.
However, Japan only drew with Singapore in the first game in second round of Asian qualifiers and lost to UAE at home in the final round which constantly surged the Asian qualifiers.
Nevertheless, the Japanese Team finally played its due strength. In August 2017, Japan won 2-0 against Australia and got the qualification in the final round of World Cup Asian qualifiers six times in a row.
On the way to the World Cup with such a result, the Japanese Team should be more mature, but the following performance was not that satisfactory. In the Autumn Europe Friendly Match, EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2017 and other games, Japan only ended up with 3 wins, 2 draws and 5 losses which were very upsetting.
So in April 2018, the Japanese Football Association decided to relieve Halilhodzic as head coach. It is also unprecedented to change the head coach only two months before the start of FIFA World Cup Russia.
In what could be referred to as the biggest turmoil in Japanese football history, the man chosen to take over as the head coach was Nishino Akira, the technical director of the Japanese Football Association. So, in such a short period of time, facing with the FIFA World Cup Russia, what kind of team would coach Nishino Akira rebuild? And could Japan make it through the group stage against all the giants? Please stay tuned for the next part.
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