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Akira Nishino: Japan can Reach Knockout Stages

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Akira Nishino has discussed his sudden appointment as Japan coach and what they must do to reach the knockout phase at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

After disappointing friendly performances in late March – in a 1-1 draw with Mali and a 2-1 defeat to Ukraine – the JFA sacked Vahid Halilhodzic, despite there being little over two months before they kick off their Group H campaign against Colombia in Saransk. They surprisingly turned to Nishino, who hadn’t been in the dugout since Nagoya Grampus elected against renewing his contract following their 2005 season.

“I will give my all to put together a team for Russia,” said the man who masterminded Japan’s 1-0 upset of Brazil, who fielded Dida, Aldair, Roberto Carlos, Juninho Paulista, Rivaldo, Bebeto and Ronaldo, at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Atlanta 1996. “I feel a strong responsibility. I have been away from the dugout for two years, and now I have to get my mind and body together as a manager.

“I don’t think we have fallen apart as a team at all. I don’t think we’ve been getting the results we should have and we haven’t reached our full potential yet."

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