BAGHDAD (AP) – The Brazilian soccer great Zico was hired as Iraq's national coach, hoping to revive the team after a disappointing run.
Zico agreed to a one-year contract late Sunday after two days of negotiations, Iraq Football Federation President Najih Hamoud told The Associated Press by phone Monday.
''The deal with Zico is done and he started his work with our team,'' Hamoud said. ''We hope to see good results by Zico and our national team.''
German coach Wolfgang Sidka was released this month at the end of his $500,000, one-year contract. Hamoud declined to say how much the 58-year-old Brazilian would be paid although he is expected to get a bonus for every game Iraq wins.
Iraq won the Asian Cup in 2007, but its trophy defense ended in the quarterfinals in January, and the team was surprisingly knocked out of the Gulf Cup by Kuwait last November.
Zico played in three World Cups for Brazil - 1978, 1982 and 1986. He has coached Japan and several club teams, most recently Olympiakos of Greece.
A contract-signing ceremony is planned for next month in Baghdad. By that time, Zico will have had two games under his belt - World Cup qualifiers at home to Jordan on Sept. 2 and at Singapore four days later.
The Iraqi team plays in Irbil, in Kurdish controlled northern territory, 217 miles north of Baghdad. The region is considered safer than the rest of Iraq, where visiting teams have raised concerns about playing.
Iraqi sports analyst Saif al-Maliki said Sidka's departure was inevitable after a lackluster season.
''Zico will have better chances in coaching the Iraqi team because he has clearer vision on the capabilities of the Iraqi players,'' al-Maliki said.
Sameer N. Yacoub reported from Amman, Jordan.