Champions Wahda rocked by Tite
ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger is poised to make a sensational return to Al Wahda after the Pro League champions were briefly rocked when Tite quit as manager to return to Brazil.
Hickersberger arrived in Abu Dhabi last night and is set to sign a contract today following a dramatic day at the capital club.
Tite quit after just 45 days in charge to take charge of Corinthians in his native Brazil. Tite - full name Adenor Leonardo Bacchi - led Wahda to four league games without defeat and his departure was a shock for the Abu Dhabi team.
The return to Al Nahyan stadium represents perfect timing for Hickersberger who led the team to the Pro League title last season before quitting in the summer. The Austrian is the national team coach of Bahrain but is set to quit his post as he does not want to travel to Yemen for the Gulf Cup next month because of security concerns.
Following the departure of Tite, the Al Wahda management were forced to move fast to secure a replacement with December's Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi looming large. Wahda will be representing the UAE and are under pressure from the Football Association to improve upon Al Ahli's dismal showing last year.
"He is leaving with dignity, and having created a good and long lasting friendship with us," said Abdulla Saleh, the team manager, who worked closely with Tite during his stay.
"It is his professional decision and we respect it. He is leaving for a more challenging job with the intention of leading Corinthians to the Brazilian league. We wish him well and he would be one of our choices if he ever decides to return to this part of the world."
Hatem Souisse, the assistant coach, will be in charge until Hickersberger arrives. The Tunisian is no stranger to the caretaker role, having worked under similar circumstances in the past. He will lead them for the next league game with Sharjah on Thursday.
Tite, who replaced Laszlo Boloni in September, admits he leaves the capital with a heavy heart.
"Wahda gave me a very warm welcome," he said. "I am leaving today with a divided heart. I have got an offer that I couldn't turn down," said Tite, who returns to the club where he was employed in 2003/04.
"I gave a lot of thought before taking this decision. They approached me for the first time two weeks ago and my answer was no at that time. But they kept calling me and the last time was two days before the Al Nasr game on Friday.
"I had told them to call me after the game with a proposal. They presented me a very strong offer, both financially and technically, because Corinthians are in a good position to win the Brazilian league. There was also calls from their most influential players, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos.
"I feel bad to leave Wahda in such a short notice but I have to also look at my own future. My contract with Corinthians is for 16 months. I start next Sunday with a derby match with Palmeiras, similar to the one I had in my first game in the Pro League against Al Jazira."
Tite fills the post at Corinthians created by Adilson Batista, who resigned after a 4-3 defeat to the lowly placed Atletico Goianense last Sunday. Corinthians are third in the 20-team standings, five points off the lead but have not won in six games. There will be eight rounds left after the weekend's matches.
Tite will have to address Ronaldo's lack of fitness when he takes up his new role.
About 200 Corinthians fans attended the team's training session on Saturday to complain about Ronaldo, who is the team's most expensive player but has played in only three Brazilian league matches because of his poor physical condition. Fans chanted: "Ronaldo, let's play, Corinthians is not your spa."