x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Zenga looking to call Al Jazira home for a long time

Walter Zenga was officially unveiled as Al Jazira's newest manager on Sunday, saying he would like to emulate the success Abel Braga experienced with the club.

Walter Zenga, second from right, trains with Al Jazira shortly after taking over managing duties for the club. Photo courtesy Al Jazira Club
Walter Zenga, second from right, trains with Al Jazira shortly after taking over managing duties for the club. Photo courtesy Al Jazira Club

ABU DHABI // Walter Zenga is aiming to repeat Abel Braga’s success at Al Jazira and wants to follow the Brazilian’s path at the club by serving beyond his contract period of 20 months.

Braga led Jazira to their first league title in 2010/11 and Zenga, appointed to replace Luis Milla on Friday, has his sights on similar triumphs.

“I would like to be the new Braga,” the former Italy goalkeeper said when he was officially unveiled today at the Dusit Thani Hotel across from the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

“I like to refer his name, because he did a great job to build the team over three years to win both the league and the President’s Cup. This is my objective, also.

“I will work as if I am going to stay as coach for the next five years.”

Zenga previously coached Al Ain and Al Nasr in the UAE and Catania and Palermo in Serie A.

“First of all, I would like to thank everybody at Jazira for the trust they have in me,” he said. “I will try to do my best to give to them happiness for choosing me for their club.

“Of course, we know that football is very strange, and sometimes we have to stay outside and wait, sometimes we are inside working. This is the life of the coach everywhere in the world.”

Zenga, 53, led Nasr to second- and third-place finishes in the league in his first two seasons, but a sixth-place finish last season prompted the Dubai club to part ways with him at the end of the campaign.

“The only thing that I would like to say is that I spent more than two-and-a-half years at Nasr. In my opinion, we had great results,” he said.

“I have lived in Dubai since the last job, and perhaps, I want to live the rest of my life in the Emirates. I have been following every game this season and that makes my work at Jazira a lot easier.”

Zenga made no promises about winning trophies, but said he would put “200 per cent effort and passion” in to his work to get Jazira back on the winning track.

Jazira finished third last season, 15 points adrift of champions Al Ain, and they are seventh on eight points in the current season.

“There are more than 20 games [left] in the league and that means 60 points to play for. We can still do something, but the more important matter for me at this moment is to think of what we are going to do today,” he said.

“Now everyone may be thinking that we have a new coach and we can win, but to get this result you must be concentrating on what we are today and not tomorrow. So we will take one step at a time. I hope we can change the [path] of the season.”

apassela@thenational.ae