Japan look at Vahid Halilhodzic to revive fortunes

After the brief and unsettling reign of Javier Aguirre, the Japanese Football Association are preparing to gamble again by opting for the volatile Vahid Halilhodzic as their new head coach.

Reuters| Last Updated: Mar 05, 2015, 20:54 PM IST
Japan look at Vahid Halilhodzic to revive fortunes

Tokyo: After the brief and unsettling reign of Javier Aguirre, the Japanese Football Association are preparing to gamble again by opting for the volatile Vahid Halilhodzic as their new head coach.

The 62-year-old Franco-Bosnian has an impressive resume of success in his lengthy managerial career but tempestuous relations have followed him throughout spells in Africa, Asia and Europe and he has never had a four-year spell with one side.

Despite walking out on his last two jobs, JFA President Kuniya Daini told Japan`s Kyodo News that a deal had been reached in principle with Halilhodzic and it could be finalised as early as next week.

The former Yugoslavia striker has been out of work since quitting Turkish side Trabzonspor in November following a poor run, citing a difference of opinion with the club`s board only months after taking over.

Once confirmed, Halilhodzic will succeed Mexican Aguirre, who was sacked last month after fears his involvement in a match-fixing investigation could hinder Japan`s World Cup qualifying bid.

But qualifying for the World Cup no longer is sufficient for the JFA, who want a first quarter-final berth and a progressive style that makes the most of their small, quick and technical players

Aguirre`s success with Mexico and in Spanish club football with players of a similar physical stature to the Japanese had been behind his appointment.

His predecessor, Italy`s Alberto Zaccheroni, was only appointed after the JFA had exhausted all avenues to find a South American coach with experience in Spain but it ended with a group stage exit at the finals last year.

By opting for the strong willed Halilhodzic, the JFA are handing over any playing style demands to a man who refuses to be bullied and is keen for discipline and defensive stability first and foremost.

He left as coach of Dinamo Zagreb in 2011 after a heated row with the club`s president, and walked out on Algeria last year despite desperate pleas for him to stay from the country`s president following the extra time exit to eventual winners Germany in the last 16 of the World Cup.

His strong willed attitude shaped by life in war-torn Yugoslavia and a coaching career in the most unforgiving sports market.

He was cruelly fired by the Ivory Coast shortly before the 2010 World Cup, while his exit at Dinamo Zagreb came despite a title winning season.

Halilhodzic won admirers for the impressive football shown by the Algerians in last year`s World Cup, particularly in the 4-2 win over Japan`s Asian rivals South Korea.

But he was never mentioned before Aguirre`s appointment and his availability to meet their self imposed March deadline appears to have been a deciding factor over fellow shortlisted candidates Michael Laudrup and Oswaldo Oliveira who are both under contract elsewhere.

That lack of continuity in recruitment is more fuel to fire at the under pressure JFA officials, who received heat after appointing Aguirre shortly before the match-fixing accusations surfaced.

With the side still reeling from an Asian Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of the United Arab Emirates in January, Halilhodzic looks a good fit to reestablish belief and confidence up until Russia.