Soccer-Advocaat quits after three months as Iraq coach

Europa League - Group K - Wolfsberger AC v Feyenoord
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Europa League - Group K - Wolfsberger AC v Feyenoord - Worthersee Stadion, Klagenfurt, Austria - December 10, 2020 Feyenoord coach Dick Advocaat is interviewed before the match. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

November 24, 2021

(Reuters) -Dutchman Dick Advocaat has resigned as coach of Iraq after failing to secure a single victory in six World Cup qualifiers in his three months in charge.

The 74-year-old, who counts three stints as Netherlands coach among his many previous posts, will be replaced by Montenegrin Zeljko Petrovic on a caretaker basis for the Arab Cup, which gets underway in Qatar next week.

“The Iraq Football Association has accepted the resignation of coach Advocaat,” Iraq FA spokesman Ahmed Zamil said in a statement on Facebook.

“Advocaat expressed his deep regret to Iraqi fans for the disappointing results as he had hoped to lead the national team to direct qualification for the World Cup finals.”

Advocaat oversaw three draws and three defeats since taking over in August and leaves Iraq second bottom of Asian qualifying Group A, 10 points off second place.

The top two in the group qualify directly for next year’s finals, while third place would offer a passage to Qatar via two playoffs.

“The expectations did not match the possibilities,” Advocaat told Dutch media on Wednesday.

“The Iraq team is in a transitional phase, younger players need to be added, but such a process takes a long time.

“We have to achieve in the short term. In principle we have achieved quite good results, such as draws in and against South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, but we found scoring difficult,” he added.

“In theory, we can still finish third in the group and qualify for the play-offs for a World Cup ticket. I hope my successor can make that happen.”

Iraq, Asian champions in 2007, have competed at the World Cup finals only once in 1986, losing all three matches.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, Additional reporting by Mark Gleeson, Editing by Peter Rutherford)