South Africa head coach Joel Santana has vacated his position just eight months before the World Cup finals are to be hosted in the country.
A string of disappointing results have led to the downfall of the man who replaced Carlos Alberto Parreira when the previous incumbent was forced to return home to Brazil for family reasons in April 2008.
Santana led South Africa to the semi-final of the Confederations Cup on home turf last summer, eventually losing to Euro 2008 champions Spain after extra time in the third-fourth place play-off.
But a 1-0 friendly defeat to Iceland on October 14 was South Africa's eighth defeat in nine games and, with the host country desperate to avoid embarrassment at next summer's finals, Santana has now been relieved of his duties.
"On Monday 19 October 2009 it was unanimously agreed between the management committee representing the South African Football Association and the senior national coach Mr Joel Natalino Santana, that Mr. Santana would, with immediate effect vacate his current position as Bafana Bafana national coach," read a statement from the South African Football Association.
"In the interim, the management committee resolved that Mr. Jairo Leal and Mr. Pitso Mosimane would assume the role of caretaker coaches, pending a decision by the National Executive at its meeting to be held on Friday 23 October 2009.
"The president of the Association Mr. Kirsten Nematandani thanked Mr Santana for his efforts to date and wished him success in all his future ventures. Similarly, Mr Santana took the opportunity to thank the Association, his technical staff, the players, and the country for their support, and wished Bafana-Bafana every success for the FIFA 2010 World Cup."