Bernd Stange became the latest managerial casualty of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup on Thursday evening when the German was removed from his position at the helm of Syria following his side’s 0-2 loss at the hands of Jordan.
The Syrian Football Association issued a statement hours after the loss to their neighbours, stating Stange has been replaced by former coach Ayman Hakeem for the remainder of the tournament.
Syria are due to face Australia on January 15 in their final game in Group B and must win against the defending champions to have any hope of advancing to the knockout phase of the competition for the first time in the country’s history.
Stange led the team into the tournament with hopes high following Syria’s run to the verge of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia last summer, but an opening day draw with Palestine was followed by a disappointing performance against the Jordanians.
Those results have left Syria bottom of Group A with one point and, with one match remaining, Hakeem will be tasked with picking up a win that could reignite the country’s AFC Asian Cup campaign.
“Coaches are always responsible for the performance of the team,” said Stange just hours before he was fired. “We are one team and we win and we lose together.”
“There is not one person or a player who had a bad day. We win and we lose together and we have to lift up our team.”
“We are disappointed extremely because we wanted to do something in this tournament, we wanted to go for the first time in history to the next round, Syria never achieved that and we need results and today was a disappointment.”
“I will never ever blame one player or a group of players for something like this. Of course, the coach is responsible.”
Stange is the second coach to be replaced since the AFC Asian Cup kicked off on January 5 with the German’s dismissal following that of Milovan Rajevac by Thailand in the aftermath of their 1-4 loss to India on January 6.