Saudis ditch Ricardo over delayed start

KUALA LUMPUR - Frustrated Saudi Arabia football bosses have terminated the contract of Ricardo Gomes before the Brazilian had even started work as coach of the national side.

The abrupt U-turn comes after a falling out over the starting date for the 46-year-old Vasco da Gama coach, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Tuesday.

Last week, Saudi football officials said Ricardo would be unveiled as the country's new coach, but problems arose when he requested a delay on his arrival in the Middle East to honour the terms of his deal with Vasco.

The Saudis tore up Ricardo's contract, reportedly a three-year deal worth $9 million and handed the job to his compatriot Morris Lorinzo, coach of the country's under-20 side, the AFC said on their website.

The national side have been rudderless since their humiliating first-round exit at the Asian Cup in January and are anxious to recruit an experienced manager with the 2014 World Cup qualifiers beginning in September.

Ricardo has coached at club level in Saudi Arabia and had spells in France with Bordeaux, Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco, as well as Brazil's Sao Paulo and Vasco.