x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Benzarti out, Mario in at Kalba

Club hope to be third time lucky with coach with changes to the management as well.

Lotfi Benzarti was sacked for a second time this year, with Kalba following Emirates' cue.
Lotfi Benzarti was sacked for a second time this year, with Kalba following Emirates' cue.

DUBAI // Ze Mario, the former Al Wasl boss, has been named Kalba's coach after the Pro League backmarkers dismissed the Tunisian Lotfi Benzarti following a 2-0 loss to Al Shabab on Thursday.

Benzarti is the second coach to be shown the door at Kalba this season. The 2011/12 Division One champions fired the Croatian Dragan Talajic in October after just three league matches. His successor lasted only eight games, seven of which ended in defeats.

Kalba's lone win of the season came in the seventh week, against Al Dhafra.

They now have hired as many coaches (three) as points this league campaign. The club will be hoping Mario, who guided Wasl to the league and President's Cup double in 2006/07, can change that trend and help bring stability to the club.

Kalba also have seen a change in the boardroom. Saeed Khalfan Al Thabahi tendered his resignation as chairman, and new board of directors was appointed, with Hassan Salem as the new chief. However, three members of the new council resigned within two weeks.

According to media reports, the team manager Hussein Saeed also was dismissed after an argument last month with Nabil Daoudi, the Moroccan striker.

Mario, 63, has worked with several clubs in the region, including Al Ain, Qatar's Al Arabi and Al Sadd, and Riyadh, Al Ettifaq and Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia.

The Brazilian, however, has been out of club management since 2009 and he will not have much time to get back into the groove; Kalba play Dibba Al Fujairah on Monday.

It was the second sacking of the season for Benzarti. He ended last season at Emirates, and he was shown the door by the Ras Al Khaimah club after he failed to get them back to the Pro League through the play-offs.

Emirates had brought in 10 new players to support the coach, including a number of experienced Emirati players and foreign pros like the Argentine striker German Herrera from the Brazilian club Botafogo and the Paraguay international Nestor Ortigoza.

Abdulwahab Abdulqadir, meanwhile, has hinted the Algerian Karim Kerkar could be back in the Ajman squad in the January transfer window, replacing the Moroccan Abdessamad Ouahaki.

Kerkar started the season with Ajman, appearing in their opening Etisalat Cup and Pro League matches, but was replaced by Ouahaki just before the close of the transfer window following an ankle injury.

"Founeke Sy, Boris Kabi and Karrar Jassim will certainly continue with the team," said Abdulqadir, the Ajman coach.

"There is no disagreement over that, but Kerkar could return to the team in January after recovering from his injury. There is no intention to make any other changes."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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