Former France international Alain Giresse was appointed coach of Senegal on Wednesday and charged with reversing its recent dramatic slump after it lost every game in a humbling first-round exit at last year's African Cup of Nations.
Senegalese Football Federation president Augustin Senghor made the announcement, hiring the 60-year-old Giresse on a two-year contract and giving him the objective to qualify Senegal, a 2002 World Cup quarterfinalist, for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Morocco.
Giresse replaced Joseph Koto, who was fired in October following the team's failure to qualify for this month's African Cup in South Africa.
A former international midfielder, Giresse is an experienced coach in Africa having formerly been in charge of the Gabon and Mali national teams. He led Mali to third place at the Cup of Nations last year and was also praised for his work with Gabon.
Senegal football leaders hope he can turn around their team's slide, which culminated in an ugly riot at a stadium in Dakar last year as Senegal headed toward elimination from the qualifying competition for the upcoming African Cup. With Senegal trailing 6-2 on aggregate late in the second leg of a qualifying tie with Ivory Coast, fans' frustration boiled over as they ripped out seats and threw them at visiting players and the game had to be called off.
Senegal was disqualified from this African Cup and banned from using Leopold Senghor Stadium for 2014 World Cup qualifiers, where the team has rebounded to be top of its group after two games.
At last year's African Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea last January, Senegal lost its three group games to Zambia, Equatorial Guinea and Libya, leading to the sacking of Amara Traore as coach. Koto lasted only about three months.
Giresse will travel to Dakar later Wednesday to sign the contract and discuss the appointment of his coaching staff, Senghor said.