Soccer

Mexico hires Sven-Goran Eriksson as coach

Sven-Goran Eriksson was hired Tuesday as coach of Mexico's men's soccer team, reportedly signing for two years and $7.5 million US.

Sven-Goran Eriksson was hired Tuesday as coach of Mexico's men's soccer team.

The former England manager reportedly signed a two-year, $7.5-million US contract.

"I accepted because it is a big challenge," Eriksson said. "Mexico is a big country."

Eriksson, 60, was selected to the post in a vote by owners of Mexico's 18 first-division clubs.

"The decision of the club directors was unanimous," said Jorge Vergara, a member of the selection committee.

"I want to thank the owners and the Mexican federation for their trust," Eriksson said. "I'm very happy to be the manager."

Eriksson, who hails from Sweden, is the first foreigner to lead Mexico since Serbian coach Bora Milutinovic resigned in 1997.

"It is very easy," Eriksson said of replacing Mexican-born Hugo Sanchez, who lasted only 16 months before being fired March 31.

"I'm Swedish, but I managed to do an OK job in England, Portugal and Italy. After learning Portuguese and Italian, you would have to be very stupid not to be able to learn Spanish."

Coached England

Eriksson coached England's national team from 2001 to 2006, reaching the quarter-finals in two World Cups. 

For its part, Mexico is keen to return to the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time since it hosted the tournament in 1986.

"That is everybody's dream — the players, the coaches," Eriksson said. "First, we have to qualify.

"Our goal — everybody's goal — is to play in the World Cup in 2010. I will try to do better than in the past."

Eriksson spent the past season with Manchester City, coaching them to a ninth-place finish in the English Premier League.

He led City to home and away victories over rival Manchester United for the first time since 1970.

Eriksson won the UEFA Cup with Swedish outfit IFK Gothenburg in 1982, and later coached Benfica of the Portuguese League (1982-84, 1989-92) and Italian clubs Roma (1984-1987), Fiorentina (1987-1989), Sampdoria (1992-1997) and Lazio (1997-2000).

With files from the Associated Press

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