TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Iran, preparing for its first World Cup appearance in 20 years, fired national soccer coach Tomislav Ivic today after the team lost to AS Roma.

The official Islamic Republic News Agency reported that the Croatian will be replaced by an Iranian, Jalal Talebi, who is a technical adviser to the team.

Iran lost 7-1 to Roma in Tuesday's exhbition in Rome, just three weeks before the World Cup in France, where Iran will be playing for the first time since 1978.

Talebi coached the Indonesian Olympic soccer team last year.

Ivic, who was hired in January, had been under heavy criticism following Iran's poor performances over the past few months. He replaced Brazilian Valdir Vierra, who had taken Iran to the World Cup finals.

Ivic, 52, has successfully steered top clubs Ajax Amsterdam, Belgium's Anderlecht, Atletico Madrid, Marseille, Paris Saint German, and Portugal's Benfica and Porto.

Ivic was last in the Persian Gulf in 1996, when he secured second place for the United Arab Emirates in the Asian Cup, but was sacked shortly afterward by the Emirates soccer association.