Saudi Arabia FF sacks Paque as national coach

With just over three months to go before the AFC Asian Cup 2007, Brazilian Marcos Paqueta has been sacked by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation as national team coach. According to AFCMedia, the move was widelky expected after Saudi Arabia returned empty-handed in January from the Arabian Gulf Cup where the team lost to eventual champions UAE in the semifinals.

Saudi FF National Team Committee chief Prince Nawaf Bin Faisal told the Saudi News Agency that Paqueta had been warned against poor preparations for upcoming competitions. “It became apparent that he was not going to help us once we studied the plan he had submitted for the AFC Asian Cup we noticed the same mistakes he has done before,” the Prince said. Paqueta will be replaced by his 49-year-old compatriot Helio Angos, coach of Brazilian outfit Nautico PE. “We will sign with the new coach (Angos) on Saturday,” he confirmed.

Paqueta, who was appointed to the job 16 months back after the surprise sacking of Gabriel Calderon, led the team in its fourth straight appearance at the FIFA World Cup in Germany last year but they failed to get past the group stage. He previously steered Saudi giants Al Hilal FC to a four-title domestic clean sweep in 2005. Saudi Arabia have been drawn in Group D for the AFC Asian Cup alongside South Korea, Bahrain and group hosts Indonesia.