Football: Iraq sack Serbian coach after 5 months, Shakir takes over

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq's football association fired the national team's Serbian head coach on Tuesday, blaming a string of "bad results", after the squad failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"The association unanimously decided to relieve the coach of his duties and to appoint Hakeem Shakir as the national team coach," Iraqi Football Association vice-president Abdulkhaliq Massud told AFP.

Vladimir Petrovic lasted just five months in the job, and will be replaced by the national youth team's head coach, who had been the interim coach before the Serb's appointment.

Petrovic had signed a one-year contract for US$800,000 (S$1.02 million) when he was hired.

Shakir takes over as the Iraqi national squad tries to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup, with a match against Saudi Arabia scheduled for Oct 15.

Fifa in July barred Iraq from hosting international football friendlies owing to a surge in violence, reversing a decision to allow the country to host matches three months earlier.

Iraq's national team have struggled to replicate their stunning success in the 2007 Asia Cup when they emerged triumphant, giving the country a rare national symbol as it was grappling with a brutal Sunni-Shi'ite sectarian war.