The Iraq Football Association (IFA) is set to announce a deal with Dutch coach Dick Advocaat to become the new manager of the Iraq national team, taking over from the departing Srečko Katanec.
The appointment comes with just 33 days remaining until the Lions of Mesopotamia kick off their World Cup Qualifiers third round campaign against South Korea, having reached this stage as runners-up of their previous group under Katanec back in June.
Advocaat has had a long, storied career in management spanning over four decades, including three stints as head coach of the Netherlands where he reached the Euro 2004 semi-finals and amassed more wins than any other Netherlands manager. An Eredivisie champion with PSV Eindhoven, Advocaat also won two consecutive doubles at Rangers in Scotland as well as taking Zenit St Petersburg to glory in the UEFA Cup and beating Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United to win the UEFA Super Cup.
More recently, Advocaat guided a struggling Sunderland to Premier League survival and his most recent job was a two-year spell at Feyenoord. The Dutch coach has experience working in Asia having taken charge of the United Arab Emirates in 2005 as well as South Korea in the 2006 World Cup, where he earned a 1-1 draw against eventual finalists France.
The IFA decided on Advocaat after a lengthy managerial search that saw a number of coaches taken into consideration. Former Iran manager Carlos Queiroz emerged as the front-runner for the vacant position, but the IFA turned their attention towards Advocaat due to unresponsiveness from Queiroz and his agent. IFA president Ayad Bunyan and Minister of Youth Adnan Dirjal recently travelled to Madrid to conclude negotiations with the 73 year-old, and arrangements are now underway for the Dutchman to travel to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
Iraq face Asian giants South Korea on 2 September in their first game of the third round, while Advocaat will get his first taste of the famous Iraq-Iran derby just five days later.