MILUTIN ‘MICHO’ SREDOJOVIC, who saw his contract as the Amavubi head coach terminated on Tuesday, failed to deliver to the expectations of the country’s football officials and fans, in general, the Minister of Sports and Culture has said.
Protais Mitali was speaking to The New Times yesterday moments after the country’s football governing body, Ferwafa, announced the decision to part ways with the Serbian who had assumed the job in November 2011.
There were still seven months left on the contract.
In a statement posted on Ferwafa’s website yesterday, Secretary General Michel Gasigwa said: “Football authorities in Rwanda have taken the decision to terminate Micho’s contract because of poor performances.”
And Mitali said: “We have taken the bold decision because he simply failed to meet what we expected from him.”
“The notice of termination of contract was given to him and it was done in compliance with the contract of employment and other relevant labour laws of Rwanda,” the minister added.
Micho is sacked at a time the country is languishing at the bottom of Group H in the ongoing Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Amavubi Stars only managed a solitary point from three qualifying matches against Algeria, Benin and Mali in the four-nation group.
Mitali said the “remaining matches as well as the CHAN qualifiers (a competition reserved for African based players) will be undertaken by assistant coaches as we resolve Micho’s compensation procedure and trying to find a suitable replacement.”
The New Times was unable to reach Micho for a comment. However, BBC Sport quoted the Serbian tactician as saying: “I’m happy to have served Rwanda diligently and I think their football standards will keep growing with time.”
“I’m going to take a rest as I scout around for the next move,” he was further quoted as saying.
Micho’s sacking follows rumours that he was eyeing the Uganda Cranes job which fell vacant when football administrators in Kampala also showed coach Bobby Williamson the exit more than a week ago.
Earlier, the 44-year old had also been linked to Kenya’s top football job but he was reportedly overlooked by the country’s football managers.
When The Wasps (English for Amavubi) lost 1-2 to Mali’s Eagles at Amahoro stadium, once a fortress for the national team, Micho said his lads had played their best football, an indication he was running out of ideas.
Micho took over from Ghana’s Sellas Tetteh in November 1, 2011 after beating Amavubi’s most successful head coach to-date, Ratomir Djukovic, and Stephen Keshi (Super Eagles Afcon-winning head coach) to the post.
Indeed, he got his stint with Amavubi off to a bright start, winning four of his first five matches, albeit against generally average teams.
But when things took a U-turn, it was now defeat after defeat.
Fans had increasingly expressed their frustration in the team’s dismal performances and disapproval of Micho, which unsettled the latter.
Critics accused him of overreliance on homegrown young players, most of which indeed got plenty of playing time.
As pressure mounted, Micho headed to Europe to explore possibilities of adding a couple of veteran players onto the young side.
But when they came, they added little value, if any, to the general performance of the team, which ranked 132nd globally on the latest Fifa world ranking.
When he was appointed the Amavubi head coach, Micho was immediately tasked to guide the national senior team to Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup glory and qualify the country for the 2013 African Nations Cup.
That year, the team reached the final of the Cecafa Challenge Cup only to lose to the Uganda Cranes on penalties.
However, last year, the Wasps’ performance at the tournament worsened following their quarter-final defeat against Tanzania.
Under him, Rwanda also failed to qualify for the 2013 Africa Nations Cup.
That was the beginning of a downward spiral which also involved defeats in three warm-up matches ahead of 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Algeria and Benin.
The warm-ups were against Libya (2-1 defeat), Tunisia (5-1 defeat) and Chad (one-all draw). That was to be followed by a 4-0 walloping at the hands of Algeria in their first 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifier.
Later, Micho saw Amavubi scrape a 1-1 draw against Benin in Kigali, before going on to lose 2-1 to Mali, also on their home turf, in their faltering World Cup campaign.
This left Rwanda’s chances of reaching the third and final qualifying round as good as over.
The national team has a solitary point from three World Cup qualifying matches.
Rwanda was Micho’s first national team job.
Previously, he coached clubs across the continent, including Orlando Pirates of South Africa, St George (Ethiopia), Yanga (Tanzania), Uganda’s SC Villa, and Al Hilal of Sudan – registering relative success with each of them.
Rwanda’s biggest achievement in football was when it made maiden appearance at the African Cup of Nations – in Tunisia in 2004, where the Jimmy Gatete-inspired side won one match, drew another and lost one. That team was under Dujkovic, who resigned shortly after and headed to Ghana.