Japan national team coach Vahid Halilhodzic has claimed that he will pick players only if they are getting regular first-team football at their respective clubs.
The Bosnian manager recently stunned the national team by dropping players like Shinji Kagawa and Honda from the game against Saudi Arabia. This was an extremely crucial game for the considering that it was one of World Cup 2018 qualification matches. Yet,Halilhodzic had the courage to go these players even though they have more than 150 games combined under their belt.Halilhodzic has seen Honda struggled to get game time at AC Milan while the situation with Shinji Kagawa is also quite similar.
The recent decision from the 64-year-old Bosnian manager may have been done in order to prevent any complacency within the team. Japan have been on a very strong run of form which has seen them move level on points with Saudi Arabia in the qualification group.
They have taken three wins from their opening five matches, but Japan need to build up an even stronger run in order to prevent competition from Australia coming up. UAE and Australia are seen as the main competitors for the final automatic qualification spot from the group.
Incidentally, Japan’s next match will be against UAE away from home. “I keep telling the overseas players that they all have to play more for their clubs. I know they’re all in a difficult situation, but I tell them over and over again that they have to get into the starting line-up or move to a club where they will be able to play. Our team depends on the form of the overseas players and I never imagined the situation that we’ve been in for the past two or three months, where 80 or 90 per cent of our overseas players are not playing,” said Halilhodzic.