x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Arabian Gulf League: Al Nasr give Ivan Jovanovic carte blanche

The club pledges no interference in how new coach Ivan Jovanovic runs the show as negotiations continue with Monaco striker Ibrahima Toure to join Al Nasr.

Monaco’s Ibrahima Toure of Senegal is the next target on Al Nasr’s list.
Monaco’s Ibrahima Toure of Senegal is the next target on Al Nasr’s list.

DUBAI // As Al Nasr prepare to confirm the first signing of Ivan Jovanovic's tenure, the club have promised to provide the new manager their full backing both in the transfer market and throughout the season.

Nasr will introduce Brett Holman, the Australia international, to the media on Saturday having agreed a two-year deal to take him from Aston Villa in England's Premier League.

His arrival comes days after Jovanovic first faced the media at Al Maktoum Stadium, where the Serbian coach asked for patience as he becomes familiar with his latest role.

Jovanovic, 50, has an impressive CV - albeit limited to Greece and Cyprus - and will be tasked with improving on a poor 2012/13 season under Walter Zenga in which Nasr finished sixth in the Pro League and gleaned a single point from six matches in the Asian Champions League.

Yet there is a clear understanding that Jovanovic needs time to restore the reputation of a club that were last crowned league champions in 1986.

"We were very flexible during our discussions," said Ahmed Khouri, Nasr's vice chairman. "Ivan said he required support from the management and I told him there is full support to him and his staff for next season.

"All coaches don't like interference and I ensured him there'll be none at all. We'll give him 100 per cent support and a healthy environment. He was very much happy with that."

Integral to a turnaround in fortunes will be Nasr's summer recruitment drive. At the moment they do not envisage adding to their Emirati roster, while Leonardo Lima, the Brazilian midfielder, and Holman are the only foreign players guaranteed to begin the inaugural campaign of the re-branded Arabian Gulf League.

The forwards Giuseppe Mascara and Takayuki Morimoto have returned to Italy, but the Brazilian striker Bruno Correa, who led the team with 16 goals last term, could still form part of Nasr's plans.

Khouri also revealed negotiations continue regarding the transfer of Monaco's Ibrahima Toure.

However, the Senegalese forward, who enjoyed a productive spell at Ajman in the first half of the 2011/12 season, is weighing offers to stay in France.

Jovanovic is expected to implement the attacking brand of football that brought sustained success at Apoel Nicosia, the Cypriot champions.

During two stints that spanned seven seasons, he collected nine trophies. In both 2010/11 and 2011/12 he led the club to the Uefa Champions League group stage, and in the latter year Apoel advanced to the quarter-finals before Real Madrid knocked them out by an 8-2 aggregate score .

"Ivan has a well-known offensive style that's also a winning style," Khouri said. "So you need a good foreign striker to help achieve this. Toure is one of the names we've been negotiating with and the coach agrees he'd be the right man for Nasr. But nothing has happened so far. The negotiations are ongoing. Hopefully we can bring him to the club.

"We leave [the decision on signings] to Ivan. But the technical committee has listed names of foreign players and passed them to him. He was satisfied with our selection, but the final decision is his."

 

jmcauley@thenational.ae

 

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