Football: JFA set to name Bosnian Halilhodzic as Japan coach

TOKYO (AFP) - Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic has agreed to become the new coach of the Japan men's national team following the sacking of Mexican Javier Aguirre, Japanese football officials said on Thursday.

Japan Football Association (JFA) technical director Masahiro Shimoda told reporters: "The technical committee has decided to recommend Halilhodzic to the executive board as the next coach of Japan."

The appointment of the 62-year-old, who guided Algeria to the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time last year, is expected to be formalised after the JFA's board meeting on March 12.

The JFA fired Aguirre after Japan's Asian Cup flop in January amid allegations of match-fixing dating back to a previous tenure in Spain.

Halilhodzic has been offered an estimated salary of 2 million euros (S$3.03 million) until the 2018 Russia World Cup after taking Algeria to the last 16 in Brazil.

Japan made an early exit at last year's World Cup under Italian Alberto Zaccheroni before their Asian Cup defence ended in an embarrassing quarter-final defeat by the United Arab Emirates on penalties in Sydney.

With corruption charges hanging over Aguirre's head, the JFA's top brass decided to terminate his contract with one eye on Japan's World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins in June.

Japanese officials would ideally like to have Halilhodzic in place for this month's home friendlies against Tunisia on March 27 and Uzbekistan four days later.

The Bosnian left the Algeria job in a teary farewell despite pleas from the country's president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to stay on and 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, were among other candidates linked to the Japan job.

Former England coach Glenn Hoddle and German Felix Magath were also mentioned as potential candidates.

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