Football: Coach Halilhodzic promises to turn Japan into a powerful force

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic promised on Thursday to turn the Blue Samurai into a team who feared no one, but admitted there was plenty of work still to be done.

"Like all teams, this Japan side has its faults and its qualities," the Franco-Bosnian told reporters at the French ambassador's residence in Tokyo. "We have to correct some weaknesses but we have strengths that we can build on too.

"The team is bursting with talent and enthusiasm," added Halilhodzic, who oversaw a 2-0 win against Tunisia and a 5-1 thrashing of Uzbekistan last month in his first two games in charge.

"The players are extremely disciplined, they like to work and are very respectful - this provides us with a solid base to work on. I'm very optimistic about achieving our objective of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia."

Halilhodzic replaced Javier Aguirre, after the Mexican was sacked over allegations of match-fixing dating back to his time as a manager in Spain, following Japan's Asian Cup flop in January.