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By ESPN Staff

Hamburg fire coach Doll after slipping bottom

BERLIN, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Hamburg SV said on Thursday they had sacked coach Thomas Doll after the Bundesliga side slipped to last place in the standings with Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Cottbus.

'We regret having to make this decision,' HSV chairman Bernd Hoffmann said in a statement. 'We were convinced that we could turn this around with Thomas Doll. But after the results of the last two matches and the impression we got, we had to react.'

Hoffmann said they would appoint a new coach before their next match against Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

German media reported that Felix Magath, who was sacked by Bayern Munich on Wednesday, would replace Doll. Magath played for Hamburg for 10 years and coached the club in the mid-1990s.

A Hamburg spokesman said a decision had not yet been taken and described the reports as 'speculation' that the club did not want to comment on.

Magath confirmed the talks were taking place but would not make any further comment on their progress.

'The HSV is a matter that goes straight to my heart,' he told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper. 'I wouldn't even consider talking to any other club in a situation like this.'

Bild newspaper had earlier reported on its website that Hamburg informed Doll of their decision shortly before midnight on Wednesday.

Doll, 40, came close to getting sacked at the end of the first half of the season in December but the coach, popular with fans and players, was given a reprieve.

He brought the team back from their Christmas break earlier than other clubs for extra training.

But the second half of the season started poorly. They conceded a late equaliser against Bielefeld for a 1-1 draw in the first match after the break on Jan. 27 before the draw against Cottbus.

'Obviously I'm saddened,' Doll said in a statement. 'I've had two great years at HSV. I hope the team can quickly get back on track.'

Hamburg, who last won the Bundesliga title in 1982-83, are battling to avoid relegation for the first time since Germany's top league was formed in 1963.

They finished third last season and qualified for the Champions League but ended up bottom of their group and were eliminated from the competition.

They have won just one of their 19 Bundesliga matches this season, drawing 12 and losing six, and are in 18th place in the table on 15 points, one behind Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Former Germany international Doll had been with Hamburg since 1998, first as a player and then as coach since 2004.