ABU DHABI // Alejandro Sabella, who resigned from the Argentine club Estudiantes in February, last night emerged as the leading candidate to replace Abel Braga, the Al Jazira coach, who steps down at the end of the campaign after leading the Abu Dhabi club to the Pro League title and President's Cup double.
Club officials were not available for comment, but according to sources, the 56-year-old Argentine was already heading to Abu Dhabi for talks last night.
Sabella is no stranger to Abu Dhabi. He led Estudiantes to the 2009 Club World Cup final, which they lost to Pep Guardiola's Barcelona 2-1 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.
Sabella began his coaching career working under Daniel Passarella. They worked together for the Argentine national team, Italian side Parma, the national team of Uruguay, Mexican club Monterrey and Corinthians of Brazil.
In 2006, the duo returned to Argentina to take charge of River Plate and finished third in the Apertura Tournament. Sabella then moved to Estudiantes as head coach on March 2009, where he won the Copa Libertadores in the same year.
As a player, Sabella rose through the ranks at River Plate in the early 1970s and played a key role when the club won the Metropolitano championship in 1977.
He moved to England the following year, enjoying spells with Sheffield United and Leeds United. He returned to Argentina with Estudiantes in 1981, winning back-to-back league championships.
Sabella won four international caps for his country in the 1983 Copa America but failed to make the cut for the 1986 World Cup squad when Diego Maradona, who he may well join in the UAE next year with the latter taking charge of Al Wasl, inspired his country to glory.
Jazira meanwhile came from two goals down to salvage a 3-3 draw with Al Shabab last night at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium to extend their record unbeaten run in the league to 28 matches, dating back to February 2010. Matias Delgado put the home side in front in the 11th minute when he curled in a free kick after Bare, the Brazilian striker, was brought down by Eissa Mohammed.
Shabab hit back five minutes later when Jociel, the Brazilian, equalised after being put through by compatriot Julio Cesar.
Carlos Villanueva put the visitors ahead, tapping in a cross from Eisa Obaid. Cesar then beat the offside trap to shoot past a hapless Ali Kasheif, the Jazira goalkeeper, in first-half added time for a 3-1 lead.
Subait Khater reduced the deficit with a 35-yard free kick on the hour before Ali Mabkhout, a late substitute, struck a minute from time to salvage a draw for the runaway leaders, while Shabab dropped down to fifth.