DOHA — Saudi Arabia axed coach Nasser Al Johar after just two games on Tuesday and vowed to replace him with a high-profile international name as the fallout from their dismal Asian Cup intensified.
The country also accepted the resignation of team manager Fahd Al-Misaibeeh and his staff, the Saudi state news agency SPA, monitored here, said.
It followed the former regional powerhouse's humiliating 5-0 defeat by Japan on Monday, which left them bottom of their group with three straight defeats and out of the tournament.
It was only the second time in Asian Cup history that Saudi Arabia have not made it to the knockout stages. They had been expected to compete for the title alongside the likes of Japan, Australia and South Korea.
The recriminations had already started with their Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro -- a former assistant to Carlos Queiroz at Real Madrid -- fired after their opening match loss to Syria.
When they crashed 1-0 to Jordan in their second game, King Abdullah removed Prince Sultan Bin Fahd as president of the Saudi Football Federation.
His deputy, Prince Nawaf Bin Faisal, replaced him.
"The Saudi Soccer Federation has accepted the resignation of Fahd Al-Misaibeeh, manager of the Saudi national team, and his crew, and relieved Nasser Al-Johar of his post as the current team's coach," SPA said, citing a statement from Prince Nawaf.
"We vow to immediately replace them by a highly-qualified international crew and domestic aides."
In a bid to salvage their reputation, the prince said he would soon meet with the heads of the main football clubs in Saudi Arabia and key players to determine the best way forward.
Al Johar has been in and out of the job before.
He took over at the 2000 Asian Cup when the Saudis fired Milan Macala, again after defeat in their opening game, and helped steer them to the final, where they lost to Japan.
He was also at the helm during the 2002 World Cup and took over again in 2008 when Helios Dos Anjos was let go, only to resign in February 2009 when the Saudis lost to North Korea in World Cup qualifying.
Before being relieved of his duties this time round, Al Johar said he was confident the team would bounce back.
"The Saudi national team is a very strong team," he said.
"Sometimes we have experienced setbacks in previous tournaments. We may lose a couple of points but we always manage to recover.
"We wished to present you a very beautiful match with Japan," he added.
"But we haven't performed in a way to redeem our national team in the entire tournament. Football is football and anything can happen in football.
"But I regret what has happened. Hopefully, officials of Saudi football will help overcome this and work together to improve the performance of the national team."
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