x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The Spaniard puts pen to paper on a two-year deal to take charge of the league champions.

Quique Sanchez Flores left Al Ahli in June but is now back in the Arabian Gulf League with Al Ain. Jaime Puebla / The National
Quique Sanchez Flores left Al Ahli in June but is now back in the Arabian Gulf League with Al Ain. Jaime Puebla / The National

Al Ain have concluded their search for a new manager, with Quique Sanchez Flores signing a two-year contract with the club.

The Spaniard had been expected to join the UAE champions sometime this week, although the negotiations were slightly more protracted than anticipated. Al Ain, though, remained confident throughout that an agreement could be reached.

The appointment of Sanchez Flores comes 15 days after the dismissal of Jorge Fossati, the Uruguayan’s troubled tenure terminated just seven weeks into his reign. Fossati, who succeeded the hugely successful Cosmin Olaroiu, had clashed with players and management regarding training and tactics.

Al Ain are delighted to have convinced Sanchez Flores to guide them in their quest for a third successive league title, and into next year’s Asian Champions League campaign. The former Valencia and Atletico Madrid coach burnished his reputation during 20 months at Al Ahli from November 2011, leading the Dubai club to the Etisalat Cup in his first year, while last season Ahli lifted the President’s Cup and finished as runners-up to Al Ain.

Sanchez Flores, 48, is known for his meticulous approach to training and pre-match preparation, and his inclination to play the sort of attacking football that has helped Al Ain comfortably rule the domestic game for the past two seasons was key to the club’s decision to install him.

However, Al Ain have endured a worrying beginning to the 2013/14 Arabian Gulf League, losing two of their opening three matches. On Friday, they were defeated 4-3 at Al Dhafra. Sanchez Flores’s first game as coach will be next Friday’s UAE League cup encounter at Al Shaab, with another Group A clash to come on October 10, against Sharjah. Al Ain’s league programme resumes on October 19 with the home fixture against Dubai.