The Iraq Football Association (IFA) has dismissed Željko Petrović as national coach after the team drew 1-1 with Lebanon.
It has been a turbulent time as coach for the Montenegrin since he took the job in November. He was appointed coach on a caretaker basis after the resignation of Dick Advocaat. His tenure started with a 1-1 draw with Oman as his new team equalized from the penalty spot in the 98th minute of the match. The game ended in controversial circumstances as the new coach walked onto the field when the penalty was awarded to designate the kicker.
By the time of the World Cup qualifiers, the IFA was losing patience, as Petrović only had six matches in charge with a record of three draws, two losses and a win. Iraq played their first match on home soil in nine years when they faced Uganda. This 1-0 victory was the highlight of Petrović’s guardianship.
Petrović’s first match in charge caused controversy and so did his dismissal. Petrović has claimed that he has not been formally dismissed and nobody from the IFA has contacted him.
The IFA held a meeting on Wednesday, February 2 to discuss the national team’s poor performance in the World Cup qualifying tournament, after which they released a statement that Petrović had been dismissed.
A new committee of coaches, former players and academics has been formed to strategically plan the team’s next steps. Iraq are second from bottom in their group with five points and have failed to win any of their eight matches. They have no chance of qualifying for the World Cup.
It was the Iraq team’s poor showing in the Arab Cup coupled with their dismal record in the qualifiers that ultimately lead to Petrović’s demise.