Brazilian legend Zico yesterday signed a two-year contract with Qatari Club Al Gharafa yesterday after two days of hectic negotiations.
The 60-year-old was in the city since Sunday to talk with the top flight Qatari club, who had initially targeted Al Shabab boss Marcos Paqueta.
“I’m extremely pleased to be associated with Al Gharafa and I’m ready for the challenge. This is a great opportunity for me and so I was keen to join,” said Zico after the signing ceremony.
Al Gharafa began last season under Brazilian coach Paulo Silas, but he was sacked and replaced by Habib Sadek at the halfway stage. With the new QSL season set for a mid-September kickoff, Zico, the star of the 70s and early 80s, has his task cut out.
“Al Gharafa has a long and rich history and we would like to compete well against top teams. I’m keen on seeing the team finish among the top teams this season,” asserted Zico, who has not coached any team since quitting as boss of the Iraqi national team last November in a dispute over unpaid wages.
Apart from Iraq, Zico has also managed Japan, J-League outfit Kashima Antlers and Uzbeki giants Bunyodkor during a well-travelled managerial career.
Zico was of the view that Qatar has come a long way and winning the 2022 bid has been a big boost for them.
“I feel the Qatari team has been improving and there are many good players out there. The infrastructure here is top class and I’m sure the youth here will be keen to make the best use of it. They really have the potential to do well at the international level,” felt Zico, also popularly known as the ‘White Pelé’.
Zico, who is considered among the top finishers and one of the best passers ever to play football, was of the view that coaching a club team is better than coaching a national side.
“Coaching a club team gives you more time to be with the players and understand them. But when you are with the national team you get a very short time. The players are always on the move due to their club engagements,” said Zico.
“With a club team you have to be always there. However, a national team gives you lot of breaks and you can find time to get back to you country and be with the family. However, the challenge is always the same as you are expected to deliver,” says Zico, who guided the Japanese team to Asian Cup title in 2004 and then coached Turkey’s Fenerbahce, who reached the quarter-finals of the 2007–08 Champions League.
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