x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Pro League round-up: Ajman fail with Mohamed Zidan bid

Sharjah appoint Tunisian Faouzi Benzarti as new coach and Kalba linked with Croatian manager Dragan Talajic.

Mohamed Zidan of Egypt celebrates after winning their final match of the African Cup of Nations CAN2010 at the November 11 stadium in Luanda, Angola on January 31, 2010.AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA *** Local Caption *** 751869-01-08.jpg
Mohamed Zidan of Egypt celebrates after winning their final match of the African Cup of Nations CAN2010 at the November 11 stadium in Luanda, Angola on January 31, 2010.AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA *** Local Caption *** 751869-01-08.jpg

Sharjah have selected Faouzi Benzarti, 62, the former coach of the Tunisia and Libya national teams, to lead their side.

Sharjah finished last in the Pro League last season, and Benzarti's first task will be to save them from relegation, in September.

Sharjah and Emirates finished on the bottom two rungs of the Pro League, and normally would have spent the coming season in Division One. But the decision by the FA to expand the top tier to 14 teams led to a four-team tournament to determine the 13th and 14th clubs in the expanded league.

Joining the Pro League laggards in the play-offs are Al Shaab and Al Dhafra, the third- and fourth-place clubs in Division One.

The quartet will play three games in a league-style competition in September, and the clubs that finish in the top two positions will join the Pro League. Benzarti, 62, twice led the senior team of his native Tunisia, and in the second term took them to the 2010 African Cup of Nations, where they went out after three draws in the group phase.

His brother, Lufti Benzarti, has coached the Pro League sides Baniyas and Emirates.

The promoted club Kalba also reportedly have chosen a coach, the Croatian Dragan Talajic, who led the Saudi side Al Ittihad to an Asian Champions League championship in 2004.

Last season, Talajic, 46, coached Al Kuwait, who won the Kuwait Federation Cup.

Also, Ajman saw their bid for the Egyptian star Mohamed Zidan turned down by the German club Mainz.

The club reportedly offered 2 million (Dh9.2m) for the striker and were also interested in another Egyptian, Shikabala, who has been put up for sale by Zamalek after he fell out with his coach, Hassan Shehata.

"We were interested in signing Zidan and Shikabala as they match our requirements," an Ajman spokesman said.

"The money that is being asked is, unfortunately, beyond our estimation of the players and not consistent with the general wages being paid here in this region.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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