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Quique Sanchez Flores is expected to arrive in the UAE tomorrow. Jake Badger for The National
Quique Sanchez Flores is expected to arrive in the UAE tomorrow. Jake Badger for The National

Quique Sanchez Flores set to be named new Al Ain coach

Former Al Ahli coach arrives in UAE this week to sign contract with Arabian Gulf League champions, reports John McAuley.

Quique Sanchez Flores will arrive in the UAE on Wednesday, when he is expected to finalise a deal to be named Al Ain’s new manager.

The Spaniard, who spent almost two seasons in charge of Al Ahli before stepping down in June, has emerged as the UAE champions’ preferred candidate to replace Jorge Fossati.

Fossati was fired on September 13 after seven weeks with the club.

Club officials said that reports in the Arabic press that Sanchez Flores has already signed to a two-year agreement are premature, though a source at Al Ain confirmed the former Ahli coach is considering variations on the terms of contract, including its duration.

Sanchez Flores, 48, is known to have a preference for committing to a club for a maximum of two years and then seeking a new challenge. It was cited as his reason for leaving Ahli earlier this summer.

Despite anticipation that a deal will be concluded soon after Sanchez Flores’s arrival in the Emirates, Al Ain will continue with their current coaching set-up for Friday’s Arabian Gulf League match against Al Dhafra. Ahmed Abdullah, the reserve-team manager and former captain, will again handle managing duties in the dugout.

Al Ain want Sanchez Flores in place for the beginning of the international break, which sees a three-week hiatus in domestic-league action. The UAE League Cup continues, although it is thought the brief gap in the country’s principal competition will allow the new manager time to become acquainted with the squad.

Between Dhafra and the league encounter with Dubai club on October 19, Al Ain have two cup fixtures, the first against Al Shaab on October 4 before they meet Sharjah the following week.

Should Al Ain appoint Sanchez Flores, it makes for an intriguing subplot to the 2013/14 campaign. The club envisage facing stiff competition from Ahli to hold onto their league crown, as the Dubai side are now managed by Cosmin Olaroiu, the man who guided Al Ain to successive top-flight titles.

Olaroiu swapped clubs in July after rejecting a contract extension at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium.

Sanchez Flores was one of a number of possible targets at Al Ain, with Eric Gerets, the Belgian coach of Qatar’s Lekhwiya, also holding talks with the club.

Meanwhile, Nelson Valdez, Al Jazira’s Paraguayan striker, will be out of action for three weeks with a knee injury. Valdez, who arrived from Spanish side Valencia in the summer, collided with an Al Wasl player during Saturday’s 3-2 home defeat and it was feared he would be out for longer. Dr Mohammed Al Tarshan, Jazira’s physician, confirmed that Valdez has stretched his right knee ligaments. Al Tarshan also said the injury would not require surgery and that Valdez, 29, will be put on specific treatment programme and with the goal of returning to first-team action in a maximum of three weeks.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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