​Japan have officially announced the sacking of manager Vahid Halilhodzic - a surprise decision with the FIFA World Cup only two months away. The national side have hired Akira Nishino in his place.

After guiding Japan to a first place finish in their AFC qualifying group last year, Halilhodzic's position as manager came under scrutiny when his side's form dropped over the March internationals.

A 1-1 draw against Mali followed soon by a 2-1 defeat to Ukraine left many wondering over his future, but the former Bosnia international has now been relieved of his duties after being informed on Saturday afternoon (prior to the official announcement on Monday), according to Goal.

JFA technical director Akira Nishino has been brought in as Halilhodzic's replacement with only ten weeks before Japan kick off their World Cup campaign. They begin the competition with a tough tie against Colombia on June 19, followed by encounters with Senegal and Poland to see out the group stages.


The Japanese have a lot of work to do in order to qualify from the first round; both Colombia and Poland will be expected to make their way into the knockout stages, while Senegal will also pose a stern test.

Japanese international and ​Southampton centre back Maya Yoshida has admitted his chock at the choice to replace the team's manager, but will focus on doing as well at the World Cup as possible as the countdown continues.

"You never know what can happen in football," he told Kyodo News.

"We'll do everything we can to produce good results [at the World Cup]. It's all about results in this game."