Vahid Halilhodzic gestures to the crowd after getting his first victory as head coach of the national soccer team on March 27 in Oita. (Ryo Ikeda/ The Asahi Shimbun)
SOCCER/ Japan beats Tunisia 2-0 in debut of new coach Halilhodzic
OITA--Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda scored second-half goals as Japan beat Tunisia 2-0 on March 27 in its first game under new coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
Yuzuru Hanyu performs during the Men's Short Program event in Shanghai, China, on March 27. (Nobuhiro Shirai/ The Asahi Shimbun)
FIGURE SKATING/ Back from surgery, defending champion Hanyu takes lead after men's short program at worlds
SHANGHAI--Yuzuru Hanyu only had a matter of weeks to prepare to defend his title at the world figure skating championships after a string of injuries and mishaps kept him off the ice for much of an unlucky season.
Umpire Sujeewa Wijayanayake signals that a runner is safe at second base during a game on March 23 at the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. (Toshiyuki Hayashi)
Sri Lankan man's Koshien dream comes true behind the second base bag
NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Prefecture--While all Japanese high school baseball players dream of playing in hallowed Koshien Stadium, a Sri Lankan man on March 23 got his wish to umpire a game there.
Yokozuna Hakuho, left, defeats fellow yokozuna Harumafuji after a long battle to claim his record 34th Emperor's Cup on the final day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament at Bodymaker Colosseum in Osaka on March 22.(Ryo Kato)
SUMO/ Hakuho claims sixth straight championship and 34th Emperor's Cup
OSAKA--Yokozuna Hakuho extended his Emperor's Cup record to 34 by defeating fellow yokozuna Harumafuji on the final day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament at Bodymaker Colosseum on March 22.
Former New York Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui hits a home-run in front of his team players during the home-run derby in a charity baseball game at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo on March 21. (AP Photo)
Matsui teams up with former Yankees teammate Jeter to raise funds for tsunami victims
Hideki Matsui went to bat for children affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and hit a home run.
Mao Asada shows off her diploma from Chukyo University in Nagoya on March 19. (Minako Yoshimoto)
Figure skater Asada graduates from university, remains undecided on career
NAGOYA--Three-time world figure skating champion Mao Asada graduated from Chukyo University on March 19, but she declined to say if she would return to the sport that made her an icon in this country.
Yusuke Suzuki (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
RACEWALKING: Japan's Suzuki sets race walk world record on home soil
NOMI, Ishikawa Prefecture--Yusuke Suzuki broke the 20-kilometer race walk world record March 15 at the Asian Race Walking Championships.
Akito Watabe soars during the final World Cup Nordic Combined event of the season in the Holmenkollen Ski Arena in Oslo March 14. (AP Photo)
NORDIC COMBINED/ Watabe wins last Nordic combined World Cup event of season
OSLO--Akito Watabe of Japan won the final Nordic combined World Cup event of the season March 14, while former Olympic champion Jason Lamy Chappuis of France placed 12th in his farewell race.
Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish throws in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals in a spring training baseball game on March 5 in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo)
MLB/ Rangers' Darvish to have season-ending surgery in a few days
SURPRISE, Ariz.--Yu Darvish said he didn't need any more opinions once the first doctor recommended season-ending surgery on the ailing right elbow of the Texas Rangers ace.
Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria holds the overall trophy as winner of the FIS Ladies Ski Jumping World Cup after the competition in Oslo, Norway, on March 13. At left stands second placed Sara Takanashi of Japan and third placed Crina Vogt of Grmany. (AP Photo)
SKI JUMPING/ Takanashi wins final World Cup event of season, Iraschko-Stolz takes overall title
OSLO, Norway--Sara Takanashi won the last women's ski jump World Cup event of the season on March 13, but it wasn't enough to prevent Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria from clinching the overall title.
Vahid Halilhodzic, Japan's new head soccer coach, arrives at Narita Airport on March 13. (The Asahi Shimbun)
SOCCER/ New coach Halilhodzic vows to rebuild Japan, asks for time
Vahid Halilhodzic believes he and Japan are a good fit mentally and the Samurai Blue have the potential to climb back up the ranks but he needs some time to show results, the new Japan head coach said on March 13.
Gotoku Sakai, center, looks to pass to a Stuttgart teammate during the Feb. 20 game while fending off Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund. (Photo by Itaru Chiba)
German mom's upbringing helped Sakai adapt quickly to life in the Bundesliga
While there are now about a dozen Japanese players in the Bundesliga soccer league, no one was likely more groomed for playing in Germany than VfB Stuttgart defender Gotoku Sakai.
Winner Akito Watabe of Japan, left, in action during the Nordic Combined Individual 10-km cross country ski race in the FIS World Cup Ski Games in Lahti, Finland, on March 6. (AP Photo)
NORDIC COMBINED/ Watabe wins World Cup ski race, Frenzel takes overall season title
LAHTI, Finland--Eric Frenzel of Germany won the Nordic combined World Cup season title for a third consecutive year by finishing 23rd in an event won by Akiro Watabe of Japan on March 6.
Algeria head coach Vahid Halilhodzic reacts on the sidelines of a World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Germany and Algeria at Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on June 30, 2014. (AP Photo)
JFA expected to name Bosnian Halilhodzic new Samurai Blue head coach
The Japan Football Association is close to signing Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic as the new head coach of the men's national soccer team, according to sources.
The last runners of the 1964 Olympic torch relay are seen in Fukushima on Sept. 30, 1964. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
OLYMPICS/ Runners to carry 2020 torch through quake-ravaged Tohoku
The Olympic flame will burn brightly throughout the Tohoku region when the torch relay for the 2020 Tokyo Games travels through areas that were devastated by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
Residents in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, celebrate the announcement of the city's selection as a venue for the 2019 Rugby World Cup on March 2. (Takaharu Yagi)
Tsunami-hit Kamaishi to host games in Rugby World Cup
The tsunami-ravaged city of Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, was named as one of 12 sites that will host matches for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The construction of an arena, which will host ice hockey games during the 2018 Winter Olympics, is underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in late January. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
OLYMPICS/ Head of 2018 Winter Games scotches claims of delays
RIO DE JANEIRO--All venues for the 2018 Winter Olympics are on schedule and no events will be held outside host city Pyeongchang and nearby Gangneung, said the head of the Games as he refuted suggestions of delays.
Hiroki Kuroda plays catch at Koza Shinkin Stadium in Okinawa on Feb. 18, wearing a Hiroshima Carp uniform bearing No. 15. (Shinnosuke Ito)
BASEBALL/ Kuroda back in red for spring training
OKINAWA--Pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, fresh off accepting a huge pay cut, appeared at the Hiroshima Carp’s spring training session here on Feb. 18 following his return from the major leagues.
Kei Nishikori returns a shot to Kevin Anderson, of South Africa, in the championship match of the Memphis Open tennis tournament Feb. 15 in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo)
TENNIS/ Nishikori 3-peats as Memphis champ, beats Anderson 6-4, 6-4
MEMPHIS, Tenn.--All the big names from Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe to Pete Sampras, Michael Chang and Andy Roddick are on the list of past champions.
Sara Takanashi competes to win the Ski Jumping World Cup women's event in Ljubno, Slovenia, on Feb. 14. (AP Photo)
SKI JUMPING/ Takanashi wins women's World Cup event
LJUBNO, Slovenia--Sara Takanashi of Japan warmed up for the world championships with a women's ski jump victory on Feb. 14 that also kept alive her chances of defending the overall World Cup title.

More AJW