(Reuters) – Former Argentina and Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has been appointed to manage Venezuela, the Venezuela Football Federation (FVF) said on Tuesday.
Venezuela are the only South American country never to reach the World Cup finals and sit bottom of the 10-team qualifying group with seven points from 14 games.
Venezuela are currently 10 points adrift of fourth-placed Colombia and Peru in fifth.
With the top four teams qualifying automatically for Qatar, Pekerman has little chance of taking his new charges to the Qatar 2022 finals but said he arrived “filled with hope.”
“I know I am in the right place,” the 72-year-old Argentine told reporters on Tuesday.
Pekerman is one of the region’s most experienced and highly respected coaches, with time spent at club sides in Argentina, Chile and Mexico.
He has also managed Argentina, who he led at the 2006 World Cup, and took Colombia to the World Cup quarter-finals in Brazil in 2014.
He will be Venezuela’s fourth coach since the qualifiers for Qatar began after Rafael Dudamel, Jose Peseiro and interim boss Leo Gonzalez.
FVF president Jorge Gimenez said Pekerman’s appointment on a five-year contract marked a “moment of transformation for our national football.”
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ken Ferris)