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By ESPN Staff

Van Marwijk sacked, Hitzfeld snubs Dortmund return

BERLIN, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Borussia Dortmund parted company with coach Bert van Marwijk on Monday, half a season ahead of the Dutchman's scheduled departure.

'Dortmund and Bert van Marwijk have terminated with immediate effect their relationship,' the club said on their website.

Dortmund had announced earlier this month that the 54-year-old Dutchman would be leaving at the end of the season by mutual agreement.

They brought forward the change after a 2-1 defeat by Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday left the side in ninth place with 22 points at the halfway stage of the season.

Dortmund's first choice as a replacement, Ottmar Hitzfeld, will not be joining the club.

Hitzfeld, who coached Dortmund to victory in the 1997 Champions League as well as bringing them two Bundesliga titles, told Germany's pay-tv network Premiere that he could not take the offer from managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke.

'I've received a very interesting offer from Borussia Dortmund to take over the post as head trainer at my former club,' Hitzfeld said.

'After careful consideration, I told Mr. Watzke today that I want to remain a television analyst and am not available to coach Borussia Dortmund.'

Dortmund have won only two of nine home matches this season and their disappointed fans mocked the team as they went down to defeat on Sunday - cheering Leverkusen when they went 2-0 ahead late in the match.

Van Marwijk joined Dortmund from Feyenoord in June 2004, replacing Matthias Sammer. He guided them to seventh place in each of his first two seasons, without the team ever threatening to challenge for the title.

The Bundesliga resumes after the long winter break on Jan 26 when Dortmund host Bayern Munich.