Romanian Lucescu named new Turkey football coach

Mircea-LucescuISTANBUL: The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) on Wednesday said it had agreed terms with veteran Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu to take charge of the national side.

The federation and Lucescu have agreed a two-year deal, with an option for one more year, the TFF said in a statement. A signing ceremony will take place in Istanbul on Friday, it added.

Lucescu will have the the target of helping Turkey qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after an indifferent campaign so far.

He agreed to take the job after talks with Turkish football officials in Bucharest, the NTV Spor and Hurriyet news websites said. He will earn 2.5 million euros ($3 million) a year, NTV added.

The Romanian, 72, will be a familiar face to Turkish fans after stints coaching both Istanbul rivals Galatasaray and Besiktas.

But he is best known for a 12-year spell with Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, where a string of achievements included winning the 2009 UEFA Cup.

Most recently he managed Zenit Saint Petersburg in Russia but was sacked after one season as his side missed out on the Champions League.

Turkey are currently in third place in their qualifying group for 2018, two points behind Croatia and Iceland. They have four more matches, starting with an away clash against Ukraine, who they lead on goal difference, on September 2.

Reports said that Lucescu would initially be hired for the four matches, with the possibility of an extension.

His appointment came after the manager of Turkish champions Besiktas, Senol Gunes, rejected an offer to coach both his club side and the national team simultaneously.

Lucescu will need to restore order in the national side after the near farcical departure of his charismatic predecessor Fatih Terim.

His exit came after images on social media earlier this month showed Terim allegedly taking part in a fight at a kebab house neighbouring his son-in-law’s restaurant.

One issue to resolve may be the possible international comeback of Turkey’s former captain and Barcelona star Arda Turan.

Turan had announced his retirement from international football after being kicked out of a training camp by Terim for allegedly verbally and physically abusing a journalist.