x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Al Jazira dismiss Walter Zenga after seven months

Abu Dhabi club decide to dispense with Zenga seven months into his 20-month contract. Eric Gerets, the Belgian coach at Lekhwiya, is favourite to succeed the Italian, reports John McAuley.

Walter Zenga guided Al Jazira to a third-place finish in the Arabian Gulf League in 2013/14. Christopher Pike / The National
Walter Zenga guided Al Jazira to a third-place finish in the Arabian Gulf League in 2013/14. Christopher Pike / The National

Walter Zenga has been dismissed by Al Jazira after seven months in charge of the Abu Dhabi club.

The Italian, who succeeded Luis Milla last October, was relieved of his duties following Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat to Al Ain in the second leg of the Asian Champions League last-16 tie. Al Ain progressed to the quarter-finals courtesy of a 4-2 aggregate victory.

The decision to terminate Zenga’s contract may seem a little harsh, given the former Al Nasr coach succeeded in his remit to guide Jazira past the Champions League group stages and to a domestic cup final. Last month, Jazira were beaten 2-1 by Al Ahli in the Arabian Gulf Cup showpiece. Zenga had also secured third place in the Arabian Gulf League.

Under the former Italian national team goalkeeper, Jazira won 15 of 35 matches across all competitions. Yet Jazira opted to cancel his 20-month contract immediately upon conclusion of their 2013/14 campaign.

The club say they expect to announce Zenga’s replacement soon, with sources close to Jazira placing Eric Gerets as favourite. The Belgian, 59, has just led Lekhwiya to the league championship in Qatar.

This summer promises to be one of significant change at Jazira, as the 2011 UAE champions attempt to rival Ahli for next season’s Arabian Gulf League title. The club announced on Wednesday that they will not renew Shin Hyun-min’s contract. The South Korean midfielder is free to look for a new employer once his deal expires at the end of this month.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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