Morocco have sacked manager Vahid Halilhodzic just three months before the World Cup, their football federation confirmed on Thursday.
Speculation over the 69-year-old’s future has been rife in recent months and the announcement means Halilhodzic has now been sacked before leading a team into the World Cup on three separate occasions.
The former PSG boss was relieved of his duties by both Ivory Coast and Japan after securing qualification for the 2010 and 2018 editions of the tournament.
“Given the differences and divergent visions between the Royal Moroccan Football Federation and national coach Vahid Halilhodzic on the best way to prepare the national football team for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the two parties decided to separate,” the federation said in a statement.
Halilhodzic’s possible departure had been the cause of much speculation since Morocco’s tepid showing at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in January and, in particular, his fall out with star midfielder Hakim Ziyech.
Last year Halilhodzic, 69, accused the Chelsea player of feigning injury to miss out on mid-year friendly matches and left him out of the World Cup qualifying campaign and the Cup of Nations finals.
But federation president Fouzi Lekjaa has been pressing for a return of the Dutch-born midfielder amid a public outcry at his absence, putting him at odds with his coach, who was appointed to the Morocco job three years ago.
Halilhodzic’s brusque manner was cited as the reason for Japan firing him after he had qualified them for the last World Cup in Russia. He was dismissed just two months before the 2018 finals with the Japanese Football Association citing “communication” problems and claiming he had lost the trust of his players.
Representing Yugoslavia at the 1982 World Cup as a player, the Bosnian was later a successful striker in France, was also dismissed by the Ivory Coast ahead of the 2010 finals in South Africa and replaced by Sven Goran Eriksson. That came after the Ivorians had fared poorly at the Cup of Nations finals some six months before the World Cup.
He did take Algeria to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where they came close to an upset victory over Germany in the last 16.
Morocco are expected to name their ormer international Walid Regragui as its new coach. He led Wydad Casablanca to the African Champions League crown in May.