x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

A whirlwind week for coach Quique Sanchez Flores

Cannavaro was the key to appointment of Spaniard as Al Ahli manager.

DUBAI //Quique Sanchez Flores revealed that it was a conversation with Fabio Cannavaro which resulted in him replacing Ivan Hasek as the manager of Al Ahli.

The former coach of Atletico Madrid and Valencia was yesterday introduced as the successor to Hasek, who was dismissed on Monday.

The Spaniard claimed that coaching in the UAE had not even registered on his radar until the start of this week.

"Fabio started talking to me four days ago and then everything moved so quickly," Sanchez Flores said.

"I am very glad to be here. For me, it is not only work as a football coach but a new experience in life to be in this part of the world.

"I have no experience of the football they play here but the sport being the same all over the world, I can learn very quickly."

Sanchez Flores, who has coached Getafe, Valencia, Benfica and Atletico Madrid, has a contract until June. "Who knows, maybe extend it for another year or more," he said.

Cannavaro, the 2006 World Player of the Year and the World Cup-winning captain of Italy, hailed the arrival of a coach, who presumably met during his time in Spain with Real Madrid, as "an important day for the club". He added: "We wish better things will follow."

Sanchez Flores watched the team train under the guidance of Mohammed Jalbot yesterday afternoon and will watch Ahli's Etisalat Cup game at Al Nasr from the stands on Sunday.

"I know it takes time to get to know the players and I will seek the experience of the technical staff to learn quickly," Sanchez Flores said. "I will try to improve the players both technically and mentally for their tasks ahead."

Sanchez Flores inherits a team who are in 10th in the 12-team league having mustered three points from three games. However, they have a game in hand, and the new coach feels there is enough time to mount a title challenge.

"It is still early in the season and I guess we are not far behind to be in contention for the league title," Sanchez Flores said.

The 46 year old becomes the league's 53rd different coach and the third at Al Ahli since April. Asked about the high turnover of coaches in the league, Sanchez Flores said: "It is normal with some clubs and I am aware of it. As football coaches, we must understand.

"Football coaches have to work under pressure and results are important. I am still new to this region but I know the challenges that lie ahead. For me, it is a job, anywhere in the world. And I will do my best."

apassela@thenational.ae

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