Japan named respected veteran Akira Nishino as its new national football manager on Monday after sensationally dumping Vahid Halilhodzic.
The JFA fired national football coach Halilhodzic just two months before the World Cup, after a series of disappointing performances by the Blue Samurai, local media reported Monday.
The dismissal has been months in the making, with Japan suffering several embarrassing losses and rumours swirling about tensions caused by Halilhodzic's infamously undiplomatic coaching style.
The 63-year-old replacement Nishino boasts an impressive array of domestic silverware and masterminded one of Japanese football's proudest moments: beating a Brazil side containing Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos 1-0 at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Nishino will have only 70 days with the Blue Samurai before they play their first match against Colombia in a tough World Cup pool that also includes Poland and Senegal.
"We thought the new director should be appointed from inside, given we have just two months left before the World Cup," Japan Football Association President Kozo Tashima told reporters.
A former international midfielder who won 12 caps for his country, Nishino is best known for his stint at the helm of Gamba Osaka and he took the club to its first Asian Club Championship in 2008.