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Milan lack midfield in derby

AC Milan
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By ESPN Staff

Olsen yet to hear fate as coach of Iraq

BANGKOK, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Norwegian Egil Olsen has yet to be informed whether he has been fired as coach of Iraq and remains keen to continue working with the Asian champions.

'I'm still waiting to hear I've been sacked, I haven't heard a word yet, no phone call, no email, no letter,' Olsen said.

'I was told last week that the speculation was nonsense. I would like to continue working with Iraq, we have a good team, we have come so far.'

Basem al-Rubaie, the deputy head of the Iraqi Football Union (IFU), said on Sunday the IFU board had unanimously agreed to dispense with Olsen for refusing to coach the team in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Olsen, who was in charge for only three competitive games - none of which were defeats - said Iraq had agreed he would not have to train the team inside the war-torn country.

'In the first meeting we had, we agreed, many times, there would be no need for me to go into Iraq,' said the 65-year-old, who steered Norway to two consecutive World Cup finals and second in the FIFA rankings.

'It's strange, because most of the players are outside Iraq.'

He poured scorn on suggestions by Rubaie that the IFU board were concerned about his health.

'I've never felt so fresh, this is not true,' he said. 'I had minor back surgery but I have no health problems at all.'

In a recent interview, the former boss of now-defunct English side Wimbledon said he was prepared for the cut-throat hire-and-fire culture of Middle East soccer and knew he had a only limited time to prove himself.