Japan’s new head coach Akira Nishino is optimistic of the nation reaching the knock stage of this summer’s World Cup. Following disappointing friendly results against Mali and Ukraine in March, the JFA made the surprise decision to sack Vahid Halilhodzic, despite there being just over two months before the World Cup starts in Russia.
Japan national team manager Vahid Halilhodzic has revealed that he is ready to give young players an opportunity in the squad ahead of the World Cup 2018. A number of established players like Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa will be crucial to Japan’s hopes of doing well in the World Cup 2018, which will be held in Russia. However, the Bosnian coach claims that he is very aware that the national team needs some young blood in order to take them through to the next decade.
Even though the likes of Kagawa and Honda have been extremely good, they may not be around by the next World Cup. There is plenty of pressure on Halilhodzic, as Japan has simply not been able to produce results in recent matches. After failing at the East Asian football championship in the final round, Japan has been unable to win the friendly games against Mali and Ukraine.
The Japanese national team has lost 2-1 to Ukraine in their most recent friendly game, played on March 27. The Asian side knows they have a long way to go if they want to impress in Russia this summer but this was made more obvious by the Ukrainians, who dominated and had a fairly straight-forward victory.
Despite missing out in the qualification race for the World Cup 2018, Ukraine were good in their showdown against the Japanese. The Japanese played African side Mali on Friday and they got a last gasp draw to ensure it ended in a stalemate. They warmed up for the Mali and Ukraine game using the Standard Liege’s Stadium.
Leicester City manager Claude Puel has opened the possibility of extending the stay of Japan international Shinji Okazaki. However, the Foxes boss has insisted that it is not a priority right now, and wants the 31-year-old to continue performing for the east Midlands outfit.
Okazaki was one of the many standout players for Leicester during the 2015/16 season, where they went against the odds to claim their maiden Premier League title. Unlike, other players from title-winning squad, he has failed to earn an improved contract with the club, though Puel is open to keeping hold of his marksman.
The powers-that-be in Japanese Olympic football have appointed Hajime Moriyasu as their new coach for the 2020 Games in Tokyo and they have promised the fans that the squad will give their all in their quest for what would be their first medal in the sport since 1968.
Moriyasu is a former midfielder for the national team who won three J League titles in charge of Sanfreece Hiroshima in 2012, 2013 and 2015 but left the job in the summer of this year with the side at the wrong end of the table and in big danger of relegation.
Japan have rejected suggestions that the future of coach Vahid Halilhodzic has been discussed.
It has been speculated that Vahid Halilhodzic could be losing his job if Japan suffer a loss against Australia when they come up against the oceanic team on August 31st. The match will be at theSaitam stadium and it will be the penultimate qualifier for the two teams. If Japan manage to win the game, the team will be able to appear in the World Cup finals for a sixth consecutive time. However, if Japan sustain a defeat in this game, then it would mean a qualifier in order to reach the World Cup 2018 finals. There is a possibility that Japan could suffer a loss against Saudi Arabia in this qualifier.
As a result, there is plenty of speculation thatHalilhodzic may leave his role if Japan are not successful in the game.Halilhodzic was able to get Algeria into the knockout stages of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. As a result, he was appointed as the coach of Japan in order to get the national team back to the glory days. However, Japan football Association director has claimed that there has been no talk aboutHalilhodzic being replaced as the coach, andHalilhodzic will stay on as the manager irrespective of the result against Australia.
Japanese national team coach Vahid Halilhodzic claims that Australia are undoubtedly one of the strongest teams coming into the World Cup qualifiers, but he reckons that the opposition do have some weaknesses that Japan can take advantage of.
The manager recently announced his 27 man squad for the competition which will take place on August 31. This will be followed by a game against Saudi Arabia in just five days. The Bosnian coach recently claimed that midfielder and captainMakoto Hasebe will be available for the game after having been unavailable for the last three matches because of an injury.
If Japan managed to win against Australia in the game at the Saitama Stadium, the team would be able to reach the World Cup finals for a sixth consecutive time.Halilhodzic is under great pressure to seal qualification, as Japan are one of the top teams in this region.
Shinji Kagawa could not feature in Japan’s World Cup qualifier against Iraq due to a dislocated left shoulder as announced by the Japan Football Association.
The Borussia Dortmund midfielder injured his left shoulder 10 minutes into the 1-1 draw with Syria at Tokyo Stadium. He was taken out of the field and substituted for ShuKurata.
“Right now I want the injury to heal as fast as it can” He said in a statement released by the Japan Football Association. “I expect the players will fight for victory against Iraq.”
Yasuyuki Konno found the net in the midway through the second half if the Japan vs Syria 1-1 friendly draw in which the former Manchester United midfielder, Kagawa got his left shoulder dislocated.
The Head coach VahidHalilhodzicnoted that the problem was a concern ahead of Japan’s next match.
Japan’s contingent at the on-going Under-20 World Cup are making strides.
They played South Africa in the Group D opener. They conceded few minutes into the game but the resilient Samurai Blueskept pushing.
Japan lost several chances to draw level with their opponents. Striker Koki Ogawa missed good chances as well. In one of his attempts, the ball hit the framework to deny him. The game ended without any change in the first half. After the break, Ogawa equalized. Ritsu Doan also found the target to seal the points for the Asian side.
After the game, Ogawa said he was confident that he would get a goal sooner or later. He said it was a relief for the team to win their opener and start the tournament on a good note.
Japan are set to face tougher opponents in Uruguay in the next game. Ogawa admitted that the South Americans were a strong side. He advised that they should not play defensively but that the team take the ball forward and ball with confidence.
He thanked the Japanese fans that came to Korea to see them play. He said the team owes them to play very well and not leave them disappointed.
Ogawa plays in the J-League for Jubilo Iwata. He said his few appearances have helped him now that he was playing in the World Cup. He added that it would be difficult but that the team dreams of becoming the world champions.
“Anything is possible in football,” he says with a smile.
The tournament is on-going in Korea republic where 52 games would be played to decide the winners.
Vahid Halilhodzic reckons that in spite of toppling UAE in their backyard, Japan’s job is still incomplete and the players should not lose their focus in the wake of that victory
Back in Japan, there was a lot of anticipation for this game against UAE because when UAE had visited Japan for the first leg of the tie, it was a very controversial game.
A lot of decisions of the match officials had gone against the home team resulting in their defeat and leaving everyone in Japan very, very angry.
Since then, the return leg was hyped as an opportunity of avenging that loss and now that Japan has managed to do that, the players are being showered with praises by the media and the fans.
But, as per Halilhodzic, the feet of the players should remain grounded in spite of these praises because they have not qualified till now.
It often happens after a victory that the team loses its focus and the result turns out to be absolutely horrific the next time they play.
And if there is a defeat in the next game, then the victory against UAE would prove to be meaningless.
So it’s important to capitalize on that victory and secure another victory over Thailand and for that, the players will have to be focused as they were before the UAE trip.
Halilhodzic says he doesn’t want to pay too much attention to the number of points at the moment. He is just looking for a victory in every game that comes in the way.
There are three games remaining for Japan and if they win all three, it will itself make sure that they have enough number of points to remain in top two in Group B and thus, advance to the showpiece tournament in Russia.