Malabo - Africa Cup of Nations hosts Equatorial Guinea have fired coach Andoni Goikoetxea just over three weeks before the tournament, plunging their preparations into chaos.
Goikoetxea departed on Thursday after the election of a new president for the Equatorial Guinea Football Federation (FEGUIFUT) last week.
New FEGUIFUT president Andres Jorge Mbomio confirmed the sacking of the former Spanish international, who had been in charge for the last two years, but gave no reasons in a statement on Friday.
Goikoetxea, who earned infamy in his playing days as a tough-tackling defender dubbed the 'Butcher of Bilbao', tweeted a thank you note to players "for their work and many good results".
But failure in a recent regional competition for the Equatorial Guinea side plus defeat in two warm-up games in Portugal last week likely hastened his departure.
Equatorial Guinea, who last month stepped in as emergency host of the African championship in place of Morocco, have been preparing in Portugal but lost to fourth tier Villafranquense and Benfica's B team.
The hosts play Congo in the opening game of the 16-team tournament in Bata on January 17.