TALLINN - The Estonian national soccer team is on the hunt for a new coach as it emerged that the Estonian Soccer Union will not be renewing current coach Arno Pijpers' contract when it expires on Nov. 15.
The ESU came to the decision at a meeting on Sept. 17, while leading Estonain Premier League side FC Flora, which Pijpers also coaches, has likewise decided not to renew the Dutchman's contract as club coach.
Pijpers spoke of his disappoinment at the decisions and said that he had intended to carry on with both the national team and FC Flora. In an interview with the daily Postimees, Pijpers said he learned about his dismissal through a letter from the ESU, while his team learned about it through the local press, which was not "the way things are done in Holland." He added that the Estonian soccer officials have one week to explain their decision to him.
The ESU was not exactly lucid in explaining its decision. A spokesman would only say that that the coach had been "acting nervously" recently, which was supposedly having a negative effect on the national team's performance.
While the the ESU hasn't so far revealed who, if anyone, is set to replace Pijpers in his capacity as the natioanl team coach, it is currently holding talks with a number of candidates from Estonia and from abroad, according to the union.
Pijpers, 45, has been working with the national team and with FC Flora since November 2000. He took Flora to three Premiere League titles from 2001 to 2003. As national coach, the highlights of his tenure include eight points in the 2004 European Championship qualifiers and a number of notable friendly games, such as the 2-1 victory over Russia in 2002.