Football: Struggling Mexico fire third coach in a month

Mexico coach Victor Manuel Vucetich (above) said on Thursday, Oct 17, 2013, that he has been fired after just two games at the helm of the team's dismal World Cup qualifying campaign. -- FILE PHOTO: AP
Mexico coach Victor Manuel Vucetich (above) said on Thursday, Oct 17, 2013, that he has been fired after just two games at the helm of the team's dismal World Cup qualifying campaign. -- FILE PHOTO: AP

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - Mexico coach Victor Manuel Vucetich said on Thursday that he has been fired after just two games at the helm of the team's dismal World Cup qualifying campaign.

Vucetich, who just last month became the third coach to guide the team as they struggled in the six-nation final qualifying group in North and Central America and the Caribbean, told US sports website ESPN.com that he had "received a notification in this direction" from the Mexican football federation and that an official announcement would come later.

He led the team to victory against Panama last week but that was followed by a defeat against Costa Rica on Tuesday that nearly spelt the end of Mexico's hopes of reaching next year's World Cup Finals in Brazil.

The team lost 1-2 in San Jose on the final night of regional qualifying, but they secured the fourth spot in the group and a play-off against Oceania's New Zealand next month after their bitter rivals, the United States, beat Panama 3-2.

With the team at risk of missing the World Cup for the first time since 1990, the federation fired Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre last month after an embarrassing 1-2 loss to Honduras in Mexico City's legendary Azteca stadium.

He was replaced by his assistant, Luis Fernando Tena, who was let go after just one game, a 0-2 defeat in Ohio against the US.

Vucetich was then brought in with hopes that he could live up to his nickname, "King Midas". But the golden touch that saw his clubs win 13 Mexican league titles was apparently not good enough for the national team.

Mexico only won two out of 10 qualifiers in Concacaf's final-round "hexagonal".

The US, Costa Rica and Honduras claimed the three automatic qualifying berths from the region for the 2014 World Cup.

Local media said Vucetich was expected to be succeeded by Miguel Herrera, manager of Mexican league title holders Club America, with the federation to meet about the matter on Friday.

Vucetich told ESPN that his sacking showed a "lack of respect" and that he had been hired with the belief that he would coach the team through the two-legged play-off against New Zealand.

He nevertheless said coaching the national team "was positive, but it wasn't what I had wanted". "I'm arrogant, I'm King Midas, but not God," he said.