Srečko Katanec has stepped down as coach of FYR Macedonia citing the "bad atmosphere in the team" as the main reason for his departure after three years in charge.
Katanec's side suffered a 4-0 defeat in the Netherlands in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying last week, although the coach said the result – which left FYR Macedonia fourth in their five-team group with three points from four matches – was not key to his decision to resign. "I'm not leaving because of the Netherlands defeat as they were big favourites for that game and got the victory they expected," the 45-year-old former Yugoslavia midfielder and Slovenia coach said. "The main reason is the poor discipline and bad atmosphere in the team – because I don't think I can restore the situation to how it was, I've decided to leave."
FYR Macedonia began World Cup qualifying with a 1-0 home win against Scotland but then lost to the Netherlands (1-2) and Iceland (0-1). Katanec, however, remains confident his successor still has a chance of steering the side to next year's finals in South Africa. "Perhaps the problems started after our unlucky defeat by Iceland, but we still have two home matches and with two wins in Skopje [against Norway and Iceland] we would keep alive our chances of second place," he said in a statement on the Football Federation of FYR of Macedonia website. "For that reason, I'd say the man who replaces me must restore the dressing-room atmosphere to what it used to be."
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