x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Eric Gerets expected to take over at Al Jazira

The formalities of a deal that will see Eric Gerets replace Walter Zenga as Al Jazira coach looks to have been finalised with the Belgian’s arrival expected to be officially announced next week, reports Amith Passela.

Belgian Eric Gerets, 59, has an extensive Middle East coaching resume and is expected to take over an Al Jazira side that finished third in the Arabian Gulf League table and just parted ways with former manager Walter Zenga.  AFP
Belgian Eric Gerets, 59, has an extensive Middle East coaching resume and is expected to take over an Al Jazira side that finished third in the Arabian Gulf League table and just parted ways with former manager Walter Zenga. AFP

ABU DHABI // The formalities of a deal that will see Eric Gerets replace Walter Zenga as Al Jazira coach looks to have been finalised with the Belgian’s arrival expected to be officially announced next week.

It is thought Gerets’s appointment on a two-year deal had already been decided even before Jazira’s exit from the Asian Champions League (ACL) round of 16 on Tuesday.

Jazira lost the return leg at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium 2-1 and 4-2 on aggregate in what proved to be Zenga’s last game in charge of the Abu Dhabi club following his dismissal on Wednesday after seven months.

Club officials remained coy when contacted for comment yesterday, but Gerets is believed to have completed his paperwork in Abu Dhabi last week. He then returned to Qatar, where he had been coach of Lekhwiya up until last week when he was sacked.

The Belgian, who turns 60 on Sunday, has had two spells coaching in the Arabian Gulf.

He signed for Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia on a two-year contract in May 2009 and moved to Lekhwiya in October 2012.

In-between he spent two years as coach of Morocco national team.

The Qatar News Agency website stated the failure of Lekhwiya to qualify for the knock-out rounds of the ACL, where they finished third in a Group C topped by Al Ain, as well as their failure in the Qatar Cup, which they lost on penalties, and their recent exit from the Emir Cup as the reason for his dismissal at Lekhwiya.

In his last address after the 2-1 defeat to Al Ain in the ACL on Tuesday, Zenga said he had achieved the club’s objectives of taking Jazira to the Arabian Gulf Cup final and a third-place finish in the Arabian Gulf League and at least a play-off spot for qualification to the ACL in 2015.

Under the former Italy national team goalkeeper, Jazira won 15 of 35 matches across all competitions.

Yet Jazira opted to cancel his 20-month contract immediately upon conclusion of their 2013/14 campaign.

Jazira have now gone through five coaches since Abel Braga led them to the first domestic league and President’s Cup double in 2011.

Braga left to return to his native Brazil after three seasons and the Belgian Franky Vercauteren was appointed in his place but Jazira ended the 2011/12 campaign with Brazilian Caio Junior as caretaker coach.

Caio Junior was replaced by his countryman Paulo Bonamigo who crossed over from Al Shabab in June 2012 but he too failed to last a full season as Jazira turned to the Spaniard Luis Milla. Zenga took over from the Spaniard in October.

Gerets comes with an impressive pedigree of top-level coaching in Europe with stints at PSV Eindhoven, Wolfsburg, Galatasaray and Marseille all on his CV.

apassela@thenational.ae

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