Halilhodzic takes charge of hosts for first time

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

The clash in Oita is Japan's first since their Asian Cup exit at the hands of United Arab Emirates in January.

That was Javier Aguirre's last game in charge of Japan, with the Mexican sacked following allegations of match-fixing.

Former Algeria and Trabzonspor coach Halilhodzic was appointed on March 12, and decided against mass changes in the Japan squad.

Japan face Uzbekistan after their clash against Tunisia, and Halilhodzic is eyeing victories ahead of his team's World Cup qualifiers later in the year.

"The two matches are up there for us to win," the Bosnian 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."

While there are familiar names throughout the Japan squad, Halilhodzic has also included four uncapped players.

Gamba Osaka trio Masaaki Higashiguchi, Takashi Usami and Hiroki Fujiharu, and Kashima Antlers' Gen Shoji, could make their maiden international appearances.

Halilhodzic is aiming to build competition within the squad, which still includes the likes of Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa.

Japan have a perfect record against Tunisia, winning all three of their previous meetings while not conceding a goal.

The last of those matches was in 2003, when Japan edged to a 1-0 victory in a friendly in Rades.

Tunisia are coming off continental disappointment of their own, having been beaten by Equatorial Guinea in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals on January 31.

Belgian Georges Leekens is at the helm of a much-changed and inexperienced squad heading to Japan.