No pressure for Japan coach ahead of World Cup qualifiers
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) Despite a disappointing start to his tenure as Japan coach, Vahid Halilhodzic has been told by the Japan football association that his job is not under threat ahead of Thursday’s World Cup qualifier against Cambodia.
The Bosnian’s first competitive match in charge of the Japan resulted in a disappointing goalless draw at home to Singapore in June and was followed by a last-place finish in the four-nation East Asian Cup in August. Japan’s display with just two points from three games against bitter regional rivals China, South Korea and North Korea was poorly received by the Tokyo media.
”Some of the media is not so patient, but this is a normal situation,” Japan FA vice-president Kohzo Tashima told Associated Press.
”He hasn’t really started, the first game was an unfortunate draw against Singapore and while that was not a good result, we need more time to allow his football influence to be felt.” added Tashima who was elected to FIFA’s Executive Committee in April.
Elsewhere, Japan should be able to take three points from Cambodia at home on a Thursday night in Asian soccer, which features a series of regional powers hosting small teams.
Thirty-nine teams have been split into eight groups in this, the second round of qualification, with only the winners and four best runners up progressing to the final stage.
Asian champion Australia takes on Bangladesh in Perth in its first appearance on home soil since winning the Asian Cup in January.
Preparations for the Socceroos have been overshadowed by a pay dispute between the players’ union and Football Federation Australia, but Bangladesh boss Lodewijk de Kruif is under no illusions as to the size of the challenge that awaits.
”We are progressing as a nation and the chance to play the Asian champion is a great one for us,” the Dutchman told AP. ”We will give it everything and use this experience to help us move to the next level.”
South Korea hosts Laos, with new Tottenham Hotspur signing Son Heung-min hoping to show the form that led to the Premier League club spending a fee reported to be around $33 million on the attacker, a record for an Asian player.
Group-leader Guam travels to Tehran with two wins from two matches, but Iran presents a much tougher test than opening games against Turkmenistan and India.
Elsewhere former Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk has a first game in charge of Saudi Arabia against East Timor.