x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Al Wasl close in on their man, Hector Cuper

Al Wasl are in advanced negotiations with Hector Cuper, the former Inter Milan and Valencia coach, to become their new manager.

Hector Cuper's career has taken him from his native Argentina to Spain's Primera Liga and Italy's Serie A, as well as other places far and away. Now it appears he is heading to Dubai and Al Wasl in the Arabian Gulf League. Patrik Stollarz / AFP
Hector Cuper's career has taken him from his native Argentina to Spain's Primera Liga and Italy's Serie A, as well as other places far and away. Now it appears he is heading to Dubai and Al Wasl in the Arabian Gulf League. Patrik Stollarz / AFP

DUBAI // Al Wasl are in advanced negotiations with Hector Cuper, the former Inter Milan and Valencia coach, to become their new manager.

The Dubai club, who on Wednesday said a two-year deal for a new coach was agreed in principle, expect to make an announcement next week, possibly as early as Sunday.

They are seeking a replacement for the Frenchman Laurent Banide, who was dismissed last month after less than five months in charge.

Wasl originally identified four possible candidates for the role, yet discussions have progressed farthest with Cuper.

“We have spoken with him, and he is very excited to come work in Dubai, and with Al Wasl,” a source at the club said last night. “He likes the project on offer here and would look forward to working with our young team, and building a stronger side for the future.

“A contract is yet to be signed, but, out of the people we have approached, he is the one we have spoken with most extensively.”

Cuper, 57, began coaching in Argentina, his homeland, in 1993, before moving to Spain’s Primera Liga. In two seasons at Real Mallorca, he guided the club to the final of the Copa del Rey and Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup, losing both.

He also led Mallorca into the Uefa Champions League, thanks to a third-place league finish in 1999.

A move to Valencia followed later that year, where Cuper lost in successive Champions League finals, in 2000 and 2001, the second on penalties to Bayern Munich.

He has since managed Inter Milan to a runner-up finish in Italy’s Serie A, with spells back at Mallorca, then at Real Betis and Parma. He has also coached the Georgia national team, and at clubs in Greece and Turkey.

His last employment was with Orduspor in the Turkish Super Liga, with whom he spent 16 months until he left, by mutual consent, in April.

Should Cuper’s appointment not materialise, Wasl will revert to those names previously considered.

Of the three other managers they have approached, one is Argentinian, one Brazilian and the final candidate hails from Europe.

However, the European, a young coach on the rise, is no longer an option after his current club refused to release him halfway through the season.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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