Srecko Katanec, the former Slovenia national coach, has been appointed to take charge of Kuwait.

Katanec, 42, will succeed Mohamed Ibrahim, who was sacked earlier this month after a humiliating 4-0 home defeat by Korea Republic which ended Kuwait's hopes of automatic qualification from the Asian Zone for Germany 2006.

"He has shown a great interest in coaching the national team, more than any other candidate," a Kuwait Football Association spokesman said.

Katanec won 31 caps for the former Yugoslavia, taking part in the FIFA World Cup™ finals in Italy in 1990, the UEFA European Championship in France in 1984 and the Olympics in Los Angeles that same year where he won a bronze medal.

At club level the midfielder played for Olimpija Ljubljana, Dinamo Zagreb and Partizan Belgrade. He also spent one year in the Bundesliga with Stuttgart before moving to Italian outfit Sampdoria where he won a league title, the European Cup Winners' Cup and the Italian Super Cup.

Katanec started his coaching career in 1996 with the Slovenia U-21 team, followed by a brief stint in charge of Slovenian league side Gorica from 1997-98. After Slovenia failed to reach the FIFA World Cup finals in France, he stepped up to the national side and helped guide his country out of the footballing wilderness.

Slovenia appeared at the European Championship in 2000 and the FIFA World Cup finals two years later in Korea/Japan. After that he had a short spell in Greece in charge of Olympiacos.

His first challenge with the Gulf state is to avoid defeat in Uzbekistan on 17 August to secure the third place in Group A. Kuwait would then need to overcome neighbours Bahrain – who finished third in Group B – in a two-legged tie before facing a team from the CONCACAF region in the play-offs to determine whether they qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals for the second time in their history.