Dutchman Dick Advocaat has stepped down as Serbia coach after a 3-1 home defeat by Denmark in the European Championship qualifiers.
The Balkan nation’s football association (FSS) announced the departure of the former Rangers manager, pictured, after Friday’s loss to the Danes in an empty stadium left Serbia’s qualification hopes in the balance.
They have one point from two games, pending UEFA’s final verdict on last month’s home qualifier against Albania, which was abandoned because of crowd trouble.
Serbia’s next match is a friendly against Greece in Athens on Tuesday. The home side also look likely to be managerless, with reports claiming Claudio Ranieri has paid the price for Greece’s embarrassing home defeat to the Faroe Islands on Friday. The veteran Italian coach is believed to have lost his job the day after a 1-0 European Championship qualifying loss to the minnows in Athens.
The writing appeared to be on the wall for the 63-year-old, who has been in charge for just four games. In a statement on the Hellenic Football Federation’s website, HFF president Giorgos Sarris admitted he was sorry for ever hiring Ranieri. “Following today’s devastating result for the national team, I take full responsibility for the most unfortunate choice of coach, which has resulted in such a poor image of the national team being put before the fans,” Sarris said. “The governing board will convene and take responsibility to make the necessary changes needed to avoid a repeat of such an embarrassing night.”
A statement on FIFA’s official website yesterday said Ranieri had now had his deal terminated and would leave after Tuesday’s friendly with Serbia. The HFF has still to announce the decision formally.
Speaking after the loss to the Faroes, Ranieri was at a loss to explain the defeat. “I have no words to explain what happened,” he said in comments reported on uefa.com.
“We all wanted to record our first victory in the group. But the Faroes deserved to win as they created more chances to score. Only hard work can get us out of this situation.
“We are last in our group because that is what we deserve. The coach is always responsible for that.”
• The Faroe Islands weren’t the only minnows making history – San Marino ended a 61-match losing streak, notching up their first-ever European Championship qualifier point by holding an Estonia team featuring Motherwell’s Henrik Ojaama to a 0-0 draw last night.
n In Group C, Spain beat Belarus 3-0, but Slovakia still top the group after their 2-0 win in Macedonia. Spain’s win came without Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, who dislocated a finger during training on Friday.
• Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has left Italy’s training camp with a hamstring injury picked up in training ahead of today’s European Championship qualifier with Croatia.