Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson was sacked as Mexico's national team coach following a disappointing 3-1 loss to Honduras in a 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier.
Wednesday's defeat was Mexico's second loss in three matches in the final phase of qualifying in North, Central America and the Caribbean, coming hot on the heels of a reverse to the United States sandwiched by a home success over Costa Rica at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Eriksson had acknowledged before the Costa Rica encounter that he knew he was under pressure to deliver with media predicting his days were numbered after just 13 matches at the helm.
"The decision was made because we could not risk Mexico's participation in the World Cup," said federation president Justino Compean, who, noting poor away form, added it was not sufficient to rely wholly on winning home matches.
The midweek loss in San Pedro Sula was only the latest in a series of poor showings on the road. "This morning we had a meeting with Mr. Eriksson and we told him his spell with the Mexican team had come to an end," added Compean.
Eriksson, who angered supporters by bringing four foreign-born players into the squad, said he regretted not having longer to prove his credentials. "I enjoyed the work, the country, everything. Sooner or later patience runs out," said Eriksson, who won a swathe of honours with IFK Gothenburg in his homeland before further successes with Portugal's Benfica and then in Italy with AS Roma, Sampdoria and Lazio, with whom he won Serie A prior to taking the England job.
"It's a shame because I always thought I would be in the Mexico dugout for a World Cup as Mexico are going to qualify," said the Swede, who readily admitted that poor away showings were to blame. "We did not play well away from home and this is my responsibility."
Next in line?
Compean said a replacement would be lined up within days with the media quickly putting their money on former incumbent Javier Aguirre, who recently left Atletico Madrid, with Jose Manuel de la Torre of Mexican champions Toluca another name in the frame.
When in charge of England, Eriksson appeared to have inherited a 'golden generation' of players including the likes of David Beckham and Steven Gerrard. But a run to the 2002 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals and the same stage of both UEFA EURO 2004 and the 2006 FIFA World Cup were as far as he could take the side and he stepped down in 2006.
A turbulent season with Manchester City followed before he took, to general surprise, the Mexican job. But after patchy results ahead of the win over Costa Rica he admitted: "We must win or life will be very difficult for me - I will probably be out of work."
Three teams from the six-nation final phase of qualifying advance directly to the 2010 finals in South Africa, with the fourth-placed team playing off for a berth against the fifth-placed team from South America.
Mexico were not overly impressive even in the first phase of qualifying which included, among other sub-standard showings, a loss to Jamaica. Eriksson took the reins last June following the sacking of legendary striker Hugo Sanchez three months earlier.