Brazilian great Zico close to becoming Iraq coach

The former player has agreed terms to coach the Iraq national football team for their 2014 World Cup qualification and is close to signing a contract.

RIO DE JANEIRO // Brazil great Zico has agreed terms with Iraq to take charge as their coach for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and is close to signing a contract.

"Everything's agreed, I and my lawyers have sent a draft contract there [to Iraq]. It's all OK as far as I'm concerned, all that remains is to sign the contract," Zico told Reuters last night.

The former Brazil midfielder will be set the challenge of steering the 2007 Asian champions through the third round of the continent's qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup finals. Iraq are in Group A with Jordan, China and Singapore for the stage that starts next month.

Zico, hailed as the white Pele during his playing days, said the draft contained two options: to coach Iraq in the World Cup qualifiers or beyond until the finals in Brazil in 2014.

"They are thinking of a longer project and I think we should tend towards 2014," said Zico, who steered Japan to the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.

Zico, 58, said he was highly motivated by this new coaching opportunity and was not afraid of the violence in Iraq.

"It's the big challenge of my life. I want to overcome everything with a lot of work and motivation," he said, adding he hoped to travel to Baghdad on Thursday.

He said his coaching staff would initially include his brother Edu and physical trainer Moraci Sant'anna, who has had experience with the Brazil team, but he might find he needed to bring in more men.

"I'm also going to be in charge of the youth scheme and other professionals, who could be Brazilians, could coach those [junior] teams," Zico said.

Zico, who has coached Turkish side Fenerbahce, CSKA Moscow in Russia and Olympiakos of Greece, has been out of work since resigning as football director at his former club Flamengo in October over internal feuding.

Published: August 23, 2011 04:00 AM