Danny Blind fired as coach of Dutch football team

THE HAGUE: The Dutch football association fired national coach Danny Blind on Sunday, a day after his team's humiliating 2-0 defeat to Bulgaria in a World Cup qualifier in Sofia.

KNVB director Jean Paul Decossaux said in a statement that Blind was removed because of poor results under his leadership.

Blind said he believed the team was on the right path and that the Bulgaria defeat was "an incident."

"It's a shame it ends here," he added.

The KNVB said it will now start the search for a permanent replacement. Blind's assistant, Fred Grim, will temporarily replace him when the Netherlands plays Italy in a friendly on Tuesday in Amsterdam.

The defeat in Sofia meant that the Netherlands slumped to fourth in Group A and now faces an uphill fight to even finish second and retain a chance of reaching playoffs for next year's tournament in Russia. Only the top team from each group qualifies automatically.

Blind took over from veteran Guus Hiddink in 2015, with a mission to revive the Dutch team's faltering European Championship qualification campaign. He failed and the Netherlands — World Cup semifinalists in Brazil in 2014 — did not qualify for the 2016 European Championship.

Constantly battling to cope with injuries to key players, Blind rarely managed to select a stable team. He lost five European Championship and World Cup qualifiers during his tenure.

A former defender for Ajax and the Dutch team, Blind spent three years as No. 2 coach with the Netherlands and his only other coaching experience was a short spell in charge of Ajax.