Portugal's Jose Peseiro has been appointed national team coach of Saudi Arabia in a bid to ensure the Gulf giants' passage to the 2010 football World Cup finals.
| Jose Peseiro during his Sporting days [EPA]
The former Panathinaikos and Rapid Bucharest boss becomes the Kingdom's 20th coach since 1994 and is tasked with salvaging the Saudis' slumping World Cup qualifying campaign.
The former Asian champions are currently fourth in their five-team group and have four games remaining.
They have qualified for the finals on the last four occasions.
Saudi Arabia's football association confirmed the appointment on Wednesday.
Peseiro is expected to travel to Saudi Arabia on Friday and sign a final contract for an undisclosed sum, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The selection comes after coach Nasser al-Jawaher resigned in the wake of a 1-0 loss to North Korea in World Cup qualifying.
Peseiro, 48, was assistant coach to Carlos Quieroz at Real Madrid from 2003-04 and has also coached Sporting Lisbon, whom he took to the 2005 Uefa Cup final.
Peseiro's first match will be against Iran at Tehran's Azadi Stadium in late March.
This is not the first time the Portuguese national will coach in Saudi Arabia. He had earlier coached Riyadh giant Al Hilal in 2005-06.
Saudi Arabia currently sit fourth in Group B.
South Korea retain their top position with eight points, while North Korea are placed second with seven points.
Iran are in the third spot with six points, two points clear of Saudi Arabia. The UAE are at the bottom with just one point.
The top two teams in each group qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals.
Third-place teams face-off in a two-leg play-off with the winner taking on Oceania zone victor New Zealand for a place in the finals.