x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Brazilian Tite to replace sacked coach at Wahda

The former Al Ain man takes over from Laszlo Boloni who did not 'get on well with the players'.

ABU DHABI // A Brazilian coaching veteran with experience in the UAE will be the next manager of Al Wahda, the Pro League club confirmed last night, hours after firing coach Laszlo Boloni. According to Khaled Awadh, the Wahda deputy chief executive, Adenor Leonardo Bocchi, usually known by the nickname "Tite", is scheduled to arrive in the UAE tonight and will take charge at Wahda, the defending champions who are off to a rocky start this season.

Tite, 49, has coached several Brazilian sides, most recently Internacional, the current South American club champions. Tite was dismissed by Internacianol last October. His experience in the UAE came with Al Ain, who fired him in December 2007. Boloni's dismissal was made official about an hour after Wahda defeated Kalba 3-1 at the Al Nahyan Stadium in the capital. Awadh said a breakdown in the relationship between Boloni and his players was the main factor in his becoming the first managerial firing of the Pro League season.

The Romanian, 57, also had a pair of sobering defeats on his record, a 3-1 loss to Division One side Emirates in the Super Cup and a 2-0 defeat to Al Wasl in their Pro League debut. It is understood the club's board decided to remove the former European Cup winner after the Wasl defeat. "There is no point in carrying on with a coach like Boloni when he doesn't get on well with the players," Awadh said. "It came to a point where there was no harmony between the technical staff and the players, and it was then the management decided to terminate him.

"It is true we had a poor start, losing the first two matches, but that was not the reason for his termination. We tried our best to compromise between him and the players, but he was adamant and the situation kept deteriorating. "Boloni interfered with the personal lives of the players and even went to the extent of being rude to them for driving flashy and expensive cars. The players have worked under strict disciplinarians and still got on well with some of the coaches we have had. But Boloni crossed those limits with his loose talk and iron-fist rules. It was hard for him to get the players motivated.

"In a way, we are glad that we were able to sort out this problem early, so we can move on under a new coach." Awadh conceded that wanting to build momentum for the Fifa Club World Cup, for which Wahda will be the host team from December 8 to 18, was a factor in the quick change of coaches. "We are heading for an important season and we want to give a good impression of our team in the Club World Cup," he said. "It is one of our top-most priorities, and that's why the management took some early decisions on player signings and a new coach."

Al Ahli performed dismally as the home club in last year's blue-riband event in December, losing to Auckland City, the part-timers from New Zealand. The Football Association is keen for Wahda to restore the league's reputation. Boloni, who previously had coached Al Jazira, replaced Josef Hickersberger, now the coach of the Bahrain national team. Of Boloni, Awadh added: "He spent more than three weeks in charge of the summer camp in Germany, but his relationship with the players began to deteriorate. Boloni has played at the highest level for his country and has had some success as a manager, and we have no doubts on his capabilities. But what's the point if his man-management is poor?

"Here we try to work as a family and with complete harmony. In my thinking, this is the first time we have had to deal with such a situation. We have had three coaches fired in one season, and this is the first time a coach has been sacked for not getting on well with the players, which is a pity." Boloni was unavailable for comment. apassela@thenational.ae