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Sports

Hannover sack coach Mirko Slomka

Mirko Slomka has lost his job as Hannover 96 head coach, as the European aspirants languish in 13th in the Bundesliga. The side has struggled in particular on the road, losing every single away league match this season.

Hannover informed Mirko Slomka of his termination on Friday, going public with the information late in the afternoon.

"We did not reach this decision easily. But we came to the collective conviction that we want to make changes," sporting director Dirk Dufner said.

Slomka took up the job at Hannover almost four years ago during the Bundesliga's winter break, vastly improving the club's stature in his first two-and-a-half seasons in charge. Club chairman Martin Kind acknowledged this on Friday.

"Mirko Slomka has my personal thanks for saving Hannover from relegation to the second division and then twice leading us into the UEFA Europa League. These successes will forever be closely associated with his name," Kind said.

Kind had told regional public broadcaster NDR at the weekend that he had asked Dufner to start analyzing possible replacements for Slomka after a difficult first half of the Bundesliga season.

The club said in a press release that it had terminated Slomka's contract, valid until the summer of 2016, with both sides agreeing not to disclose terms of the separation. Hannover said that a replacement coach would be unveiled "in the coming days."

Less than a week into the Bundesliga's month-long winter break, Slomka was away on winter vacations in Abu Dhabi when he received the news.

Away form the Achilles' Heel

Despite ambitions to return to European competition, Hannover are languishing in 13th in the league table half-way through the season.

The side has not yet scored a single league point away from home, losing all eight games on the road. As is typical of the past few seasons, Hannover's home form - taken in isolation - would put the team in sixth position and on course for European competition.

Facing injuries to key attacking producers like Mame Biriam Diouf and Didier Ya Konan, the northern Germans have won just one of their past 11 competitive matches. The embattled side from Lower Saxony rounded out the first half of the season with an away defeat to relegation-threatened Freiburg, a game that had been billed as a chance to break their losing run on the road.

Slomka is the fourth top-flight coach to lose his job in Germany this season, following in the footsteps of Stuttgart's Bruno Labbadia, Hamburg's Thorsten Fink and Nuremberg's Michael Wiesinger.

msh/jr (dpa, SID)

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