Abu Dhabi: Italian Walter Zenga, the former coach of Al Nasr, will replace Spaniard Luis Milla as head coach of Al Jazira in the Arabian Gulf League next week.
The long-awaited change was announced on Friday just before the start of the league match between Al Jazira and Al Dhafra at Madinat Zayed. It was a strange coincidence that Milla was appointed last season to replace Brazilian Paulo Bonamigo also after the team played their league match against Al Dhafra.
Al Jazira, who won the double three seasons ago, were lying fifth before Friday’s matches, five points behind the leaders Al Ahli.
Last month, former Italy and Inter Milan goalkeeper Zenga spoke with Gulf News in an exclusive interview, expressing his sadness at his sacking at the end of last season.
“It is the worst decision that the club took, but I don’t want to say anything. I still enjoy the best of relations with a lot of the club officials, particularly with Marwan Bin Gulaitha [chairman, board of directors at Al Nasr]. For me, ultimately it is about doing a job in the best way. As far as I know I was doing a great job, until something went terribly wrong,” Zenga said.
That ‘something terrible’ was in December last year when Zenga axed one of the Al Nasr players [Abdullah Masaoud] on disciplinary grounds. What followed was internal strife among the players and the best method to restore calm was getting rid of the coach.
“I was shocked. I still remember it was May 23 or 24 and I had sat with the technical committee and finalised nearly 90 per cent of our preparation programme for the new season. And then I am told that my services were no longer required. I think the decision came from the technical committee,” Zenga said.
The Italian is not the type to sit back and bemoan his misfortune and he carried on with his life.
He and his wife Raluca Rebedea had already purchased a new house on The Palm with a private residence visa.