News Matches
World Cup

Ex-Morocco coach Halilhodzic says sackings just before World Cups could be due to ‘curse’

3:02 AM MYT 20/08/2022
Vahid Halilhodzic - Trabzonspor
The tactician was dismissed a few months ahead of the global tournament for the third time after leaving the Atlas Lions hotseat

Former Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic says he may be ‘cursed’ after being sacked for a third time just before the World Cup.

The Franco-Bosnian tactician was shown the door from the Atlas Lions hot seat for what the Morocco FA described as alienating players from the national team, just over three months before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Coincidentally, this was the third time Halilhodzic was dismissed just before the global tournament, having been sacked by Ivory Coast four months before the 2010 tournament as well as leaving his post as Japan coach two months before the 2018 edition in Russia.

"Maybe I'm cursed,” Halilhodzic said, speaking for the first time since his dismissal.

“Statistically, I am their [Morocco] most successful coach in history, but that doesn't seem to matter. I'm sorry to [have been sacked before a World Cup] for a third time, especially since I know how much work I put in,” he added.

Morocco FA boss Faouzi Lekjaa revealed that Halilhodzic’s tendency to fall out with national team players was the main reason for his sacking, especially after Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech retired from international football last year for being excluded from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations squad.

Ziyech had fallen out with the coach, who accused him of a bad attitude and feigning an injury, while Schalke 04 midfielder Amine Harit and Bayern Munich full-back Noussair Mazraoui had also been excluded before being recalled ahead of June’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

“I don’t care what people think of me after that,” added Halilhodzic. “I could accept whatever they asked and stay, but once a coach allows others to decide who will play and go to the World Cup, then he is no longer a coach. The credibility of the players also disappears immediately.”

The 70-year-old says he has received a number of offers since his sacking but he is taking his time before making a decision and is not ruling out retirement.

“I have never had so many offers. Three or four national teams are calling me, like many clubs, but at the moment I want to rest first. Anything can happen, including ending my career," he concluded.

Halilhodzic joined Morocco in August 2019, leading them to the quarter-finals of the 2021 Afcon in Cameroon before sealing their ticket to the World Cup where they are in Group F alongside Croatia, Belgium and Canada.