Halilhodzic ready for Japan debut

Vahid Halilhodzic takes charge of the Japan team for the first time when they face Tunisia in an international friendly on Friday.

The match in Oita will be Japan’s first since their Asian defeat to the UAE in what turned out to be Javier Aguirre's last math in charge.

After the Mexican was sacked after being implied in a match fixing scandal prior to taking the Japan job, Halilhodzic was appointed on March 12.

Ahead of the clash against Tunisia and the friendly against Uzbekistan that follows, Halilhodzic said that two victories would put his team in good position ahead of the World Cup qualifiers later this year.

"The two matches are up there for us to win," the former Algerian coach said when revealing his squad.

"I want to show something we can say 'This is our way' for Russia 2018 and the direction we are heading in the first match."

The Bosnian has refrained from making wholesale changes to the squad, but included four uncapped players – Gamba Osaka trio Masaaki Higashiguchi, Takashi Usami and Hiroki Fujiharu, and Kashima Antlers' Gen Shoji.

Japan has beaten Tunisia in all three their previous encounters without conceding a goal, although the last of those matches took played in 2003 when the Asian side won 1-0 in Rades.

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