CAPE TOWN, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Former Portugal international defender Abel Xavier has been named as the new coach of Mozambique, tasked with reviving their fortunes after missing out on the 2018 World Cup and two early defeats in the African Nations qualifiers.
Xavier, born in Mozambique but capped 20 times by Portugal, has been handed a two-year contract, Mozambique's football association said.
Mozambique have lost their opening two 2017 African Nations Cup qualifiers, including a surprise defeat by minnows Mauritius. The side have already been eliminated from the preliminaries for the World Cup in Russia.
Xavier will lead the team for the first time in home and away Nations Cup qualification matches against Ghana in March as he seeks to get the team back on track for a place in the finals in Gabon.
The 43-year-old featured as a player for both Everton and Liverpool, as well as in Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Turkey and the United States.
His previous coaching experience has been with Portuguese second tier sides Olhanense, Farense and Desportivo Aves. (Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town; Editing by Alison Williams)