Halilhodzic to J-League: Improve player fitness, officiating

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coach has had a month to examine the physique of players, and he’s not happy with what he’s seen.

The 62-year-old became the first Samurai Blue manager to participate in a meeting of the league’s executive committee on Tuesday, where he spent an hour discussing his dissatisfaction with the state of the country’s domestic game.

Documents distributed to participants included a list of body fat percentages of players who participated in Japan’s March friendlies, with striker Takashi Usami in particular singled out for his 14.1 percent.

“He’s incredibly talented and I have high hopes for him,” Halilhodzic said of the Gamba Osaka star. “He needs to work hard but if he can meet my expectations he’ll be able to play anywhere in Europe.

“Many of these J-League players aren’t physically prepared.”

Amongst the other topics discussed by the former Algeria coach were the introduction of facilities to aid in players’ physical recovery, stronger emphasis on counter-attacking in youth academies, and higher standards of officiating.

“[J-League referees] blow their whistle for minimal contact,” Halilhodzic elaborated. “You would never see these sorts of calls in Europe.

“If we want players to be stronger on the ball, the officiating needs to change.”