Cologne hire Markus Anfang as coach for next season

COLOGNE, Germany -- Relegation-troubled Cologne have appointed Markus Anfang as coach for next season, when the club will most likely be playing in Germany's second division.

Cologne, last in the Bundesliga with four rounds remaining, say the 43-year-old Anfang, a native of the city, will switch from Holstein Kiel along with assistant Tom Cichon for the 2018-19 season. Both signed three-year deals.

Anfang, a former midfielder, played for Fortuna Duesseldorf, Kaiserslautern, Duisburg and Schalke, before he started his coaching career with Kiel in September 2016. He led Kiel to promotion from the third division in his first season, and the side is well placed to earn another promotion to the Bundesliga this year.

Cologne sporting director Armin Veh said: "Anfang is a coach that manages to transfer his ideas well to the team. He has proven that in Kiel."

Kiel are third in the second division's playoff race, two points behind Nuremberg in an automatic promotion spot, with four games remaining. The side's next game is at home to Nuremberg.

Cologne's chances of survival under current coach Stefan Ruthenbeck appear slim as they are nine points from safety. The club announced last Thursday that Ruthenbeck would not be continuing regardless of how the season ended.