Serbian Milovan Rajevac was sacked as Qatar coach on Sunday following a string of unimpressive results. He has been replaced by Brazilian Sebastiao Lazaroni, who was previously in charge of Qatar Stars League side Qatar SC.
The decision to relieve 54-year-old Rajevac of his duties was made late on Sunday after a meeting of the top brass of the Qatar Football Association.
Rajevac’s five-month reign – the shortest tenure of any Qatar coach – comes following Qatar’s 2-1 defeat in Vietnam in the second round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup held last month.
The Serb, who took Ghana to the World Cup quarter-finals last year, had also struggled to inspire Qatar in their build-up to the qualifying campaign. Qatar lost 3-0 to Swiss top-division side Lausanne, and 4-2 against Bayern Munich in Italy. They drew 2-2 with Neuchatel Xamax in Switzerland before suffering a shock 2-1 home defeat at the hands of lowly India.
Although Qatar qualified for the third round on the back of a 3-0 home win in the first leg, the QFA was unimpressed with the result.
“We thank him for his efforts. But we feel this is a time to move on so we mutually agreed to end the contract,” QFA president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said in a statement.
Lazaroni is the third coach to hold the reins of the Qatar team this year, who are under pressure to improve after winning the bid to host the 2022 World Cup. Rajevac had replaced Bruno Metsu last February on a four-year contract after the Frenchman failed to guide the hosts beyond the quarter-final stage at the 2010 Asian Cup.
“I thank QFA for entrusting me. I’m delighted to be appointed for this role,” said the 60-year-old Brazilian as he held his first training session last night with the Qatar national team preparing for the third round of the Asian World Cup qualifiers. He has the task of steering Qatar through FIFA World Cup qualifying. Qatar were drawn with Iran, Bahrain and Indonesia in Group E for the third round which will begin next month. Qatar will begin their campaign away against Bahrain on September 2.
“The next phase is very important and every player has to make every effort to achieve the desired goal,” Lazaroni, winner of the 2009 Qatar Coach of the Year award, made himself clear to his team. “It’s an honour for every player to be in the team. And he has to prove himself that he deserved this honour.”
But the former Brazil, Fenerbahce and Fiorentina coach will have his first match as Qatar boss when they entertain Iraq in a friendly at home on August 19.
A QFA source told Gulf Times that Lazaroni has requested for the release of Saeed China, his assistant at Qatar SC, and goalkeeping coach of the junior Al Gharafa side join to assist him with the national team duties.