Tokyo: Japanese football officials were tightlipped Thursday as Algeria`s 2014 World Cup coach Vahid Halilhodzic emerged as the leading candidate for the vacant national team job, according to local media.
The Japan Football Association (JFA) were said to be in talks with the 62-year-old Bosnian, broadcaster NHK reported, while the Nikkan Sports newspaper claimed that Halilhodzic had been offered an estimated salary of 2 million euros ($2.27 million) to replace Mexican Javier Aguirre, who was sacked earlier this month.
But a JFA spokeswoman told AFP: "No formal decision had been made and as such we are not in a position to make any comment on the issue."
The JFA`s silence comes as little surprise after the fiasco surrounding Aguirre, who was fired over his alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal dating back to a previous tenure in Spain, having taken charge only after Japan`s World Cup flop last year.
With charges hanging over the Mexican`s head, Japan crashed out of last month`s Asian Cup in the quarter-finals, accelerating his downfall as the JFA`s top brass looked towards the World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins in June.
"Getting through the World Cup qualifiers is the most important," JFA chief Kuniya Daini told local media, although he did not rule out appointing a coach before next month`s home friendlies against Tunisia on March 27 and Uzbekistan four days later.
"That`s not clear yet," added Daini on the subject of having someone in place next month. "It depends on visas and the such -- but hopefully, if there`s time. We`re not there yet. There`s still quite a lot of work to be done before it`s decided."
Halilhodzic earned plaudits for steering Algeria into the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time in Brazil last year, where they were beaten 2-1 in extra time by eventual champions Germany in the last 16.
He left the post in a tearful farewell despite pleas from the country`s president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to stay on.
The Bosnian is said to have been introduced to the JFA by countryman and former Japan coach Ivica Osim.
Former Danish international and Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup and Italian Luciano Spalletti, who led Zenit St Petersburg to two Russian titles in his last managerial post, are among other candidates who have been linked to the Japan job.
Former England coach Glenn Hoddle and German Felix Magath have also been mentioned as potential candidates.