World Cup 2018: Japan coach leaves role after tournament exit

The Japanese Football Association will not renew his contract after round of 16 exit

Jack Watson
Thursday 05 July 2018 14:51 BST
2018 Russia World Cup in numbers

Japan coach Akira Nishino will not be asked to continue in his role when his contract expires at the end of the month, the Japanese Football Association (JFA) and the manager announced.

Japan qualified as runners up in their group and were 25 minutes away from beating Belgium in the World Cup round of 16 but for a dramatic comeback.

Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui gave Japan a 2-0 lead after half time, but goals from Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini set up Nacer Chadli to score a 94th minute winner to take Belgium to the quarter-final and knockout Japan. A goal which has cost Nishino his job.

“My contract ends at the end of the month,” Nishino said at Tokyo’s Narita airport. “And I have been working on the assumption that this job would last from the moment I was appointed to the end of the World Cup.”

Nishino was the JFA’s former technical director and became the national team manager in April following Japan’s surprise decision to sack Vahid Halilhodzic, who had sealed Japan’s qualification to the World Cup.

As well as now being without a manager, Japan captain Makoto Hasebe has announced his decision to retire from international football. “People had low expectations of us,” said Hasebe who won 114 caps for Japan. “We talked about turning the situation around.

Chadli's 94th minute winner ended Japan's World Cup
Chadli's 94th minute winner ended Japan's World Cup (EPA)

“I think everyone became interested in soccer again, so in that way, I think we did a good job.”

Japan left their dressing room at the Rostov Arena in pristine condition and thanked the staff at the stadium after the Belgium defeat. Supporters received praise for their impressive fancy dress as well as staying behind after matches to help with the clean-up operations in the stands.

“Staff of the team cleaned up our locker room perfectly at each of our games before leaving the venue,” Hasebe said.

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