x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Hasek shoulders a double burden

After guiding Al Ahli to the Pro League title and the Fifa Club World Cup, Ivan Hasek has taken on the challenging of ensuring the Czech Republic's qualification for the 2010 World Cup.

Ivan Hasek, the former coach of Al Ahli, faces a formidable challenge with the Czech Republic team.
Ivan Hasek, the former coach of Al Ahli, faces a formidable challenge with the Czech Republic team.

After guiding Al Ahli to the Pro League title and the Fifa Club World Cup, Ivan Hasek has taken on the challenging of ensuring the Czech Republic's qualification for the 2010 World Cup. Hasek, who returned home in June after winning three trophies in 18 months for Ahli, replaces interim coach Frantisek Straka, whose contract expired on June 30.

The 45-year-old former Czech international, who captained the national team at the 1990 World Cup, turned down Ahli's renewal offer and decided to go home and contest elections to become president of the Czech football federation. He won by an overwhelming majority and has now been forced into the dual management/coaching responsibility after Slavia Prague coach Karel Jarolim turned down the job. "An extraordinary situation needs an extraordinary solution," said Hasek after a meeting of the federation's executive committee. "It's not a standard move. I take the responsibility."

The Czech Republic are struggling in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers with just eight points from six games. They lie fourth in Group C of European qualifying, seven points behind leaders Slovakia, and need to win all four of their remaining matches to retain any hopes of reaching South Africa. Hasek, who had earlier turned down the national team job to stay with Ahli, will start his tenure with a friendly against Belgium on Aug 12 before resuming their qualifying campaign in Slovakia on Sept 5.

"It's a short-term solution," added Hasek. "From the next qualifying cycle, we will come up with a long-term solution. I won't be part of that." Former Czech Republic coach Karel Bruckner will be Hasek's adviser. "He will be with the team all the time," said Hasek. @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae