Iraq plan to sign Brazilian coach Zico for their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, local soccer officials said on Thursday.
Zico, speaking to Reuters in Rio de Janeiro, confirmed there had been an informal contact with him through his brother Edu who has worked in the Middle East and he said he thought it was an interesting proposition.
Iraq have qualified for the third Asian round of World Cup qualifiers, which start on September 2. Iraq are in group A with Jordan, China and Singapore.
Signing Zico, one of Brazil’s greatest players who coached Japan at the 2006 World Cup finals, would be a huge boost for Iraq who have struggled since winning the Asian Cup in 2007.
“The association is determined to sign a deal with Zico to coach Iraq’s national team in the upcoming qualifiers for the World Cup,” Kamel Zeghyar, an Iraqi football association member, told Reuters.
Zico said: “There was an initial contact with an intermediary of the Iraqi (football) federation who worked with my brother Edu in the Middle East.”
“Edu did an excellent job there ... and the intermediary asked us if we were interested in working with the Iraqi national team,” added the 58-year-old.
“I said yes, but was waiting for an official contact with the Iraqi federation or for him to process a document authorizing (him) to conduct negotiations.
“I think it would be a good opportunity... It could be a job of preparation for the 2014 Cup here in Brazil. The fact that we're Brazilians could even help,” he said in a telephone interview.
“Iraq has good players, but the big difficulty is that most of them play abroad,” added Zico, whom Zeghyar said was expected in Iraq on Sunday to attend a league match.
“It will be a good opportunity to present him to Iraqi spectators, to talk with him directly and to try to finalize all contractual and technical issues,” Zeghyar said.
Zico last year quit as football director of Flamengo after only four months in the job, saying feuds within the Rio de Janeiro club had made the position impossible.