DOHA // Qatar have parted company with Serbia's Milovan Rajevac after only four months in charge of the national side, replacing him with Brazilian Sebastiao Lazaroni.
The unexpected move announced late last night comes after Qatar were beaten by Vietnam last month in the second leg of their 2014 World Cup qualifier, but still advanced 4-2 on aggregate.
Lazaroni, who previously led club side Qatar SC, is the third coach this year for the country, who are under pressure to reach a World Cup finals after winning the bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
The 54-year-old Rajevac had a contract through to the end of 2014 World Cup. Rajevac, who coached Ghana until 2010, then the Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli, said last month he hoped to make history with Qatar by helping qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.
Rajevac could not be reached for comment but in a statement the Qatar Football Association (QFA) hinted that his departure was connected to the Vietnam loss. It described the team as qualifying for the group stage of the Asian zone qualifier "in rather alarming fashion".
"We thank him for his efforts. But we feel this is a time to move on so we mutually agreed to end the contract," the QFA president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said in a statement.
Lazaroni coached Brazil at the 1990 World Cup, where his side was eliminated in the second round by Argentina. He has since coached Fenerbahce in Turkey, which ended the 40-year undefeated European home record of Manchester United in the Champions League in 1996.
Lazaroni has also managed teams in China, the Caribbean and Japan. He was named Qatar's coach of the year in 2009.
Lazaroni could take charge of the team as soon as Wednesday for their friendly against Iraq.