A pair of Arabian Gulf League sides have made contact with Pierluigi Tami and are trying to lure the respected coach, who is expected to be a contender if Switzerland split with Vladimir Petkovic after World Cup 2018.
Tami, 56, is lauded for his work at several junior national teams. This includes guiding the likes of Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, Stoke winger Xherdan Shaqiri and Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer to runners-up at the 2011 European Under-21 Championship.
The Italy-born, Swiss national is available for work after a second spell at Lugano – fearsome ex-Argentine, Real Madrid and Inter Milan centre-back Water Samuel was assistant – ended with his premature dismissal last month after a drastic drop in form.
But a reputation for establishing sides with thorough defensive organisation has made him a man in demand. Beyond the UAE and his native country, the Switzerland No2 from 2006-15 is also wanted by several Bundesliga sides.
Tami remains open to the overtures from the unnamed AGL outfits.
Current available posts for 2018/19 in the Emirates’ top flight include promoted outfits Bani Yas and Fujairah.
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club are also in the market for a new leader – believed to be Al Ittihad’s Jose Luis Sierra.
Meanwhile, Fujairah have snapped up Al Shabab Riyadh forward Mohamed Benyettou and shown they are wasting no time after a two-year stint away from the top flight ended on Sunday.
Algerian Benyettou, 28, scored 22 times in 57 Saudi Professional League fixtures.
Al Dhafra are expected to imminently announce the capture of 2017/18 Saudi Professional League Coach of the Year Vuk Rasovic, following Al Faisaly’s 3-1 defeat to Al Ittihad in Saturday’s King’s Cup final.
Rasovic, 45, lifted Al Annabi from ninth to sixth during his only full season in charge and earned a first shot at Saudi Arabia’s premier cup competition. Such achievements have made the Germany-born, ex-Yugoslavia defender a wanted man.
He is now expected to succeed Macedonia’s Gjoko Hadzievski at the Arabian Gulf League strugglers.
The Western Knights finished just one point and one place outside the promotion/relegation play-off spots. But they have already vividly detailed their ambition for an improved 2018/19 by winning the race for coveted ex-Al Hilal centre midfielder Nicolas Milesi.
Rasovic won the 2012/13 Serbian Super Liga title at Partizan Belgrade – a club he represented as a player throughout two spells.
One player that he will not be taking charge of is Morocco centre midfielder Adel Hermach.
The 31-year-old has been announced as Ajman’s latest addition as they look to cement their spot in the top flight.
The ex-Al Wahda and Hilal star only played 11 times in the 2017/18 AGL after being dumped halfway through by Dhafra.
Ajman have already recruited prolific winger Vander Vieira from Sharjah.
The Brazilian scored seven times in 18 top-flight matches after his summer recruitment from Cyprus’ APOEL – all from the penalty spot.
Coach Henk ten Cate has declared “the big pressure” is on hosts Persepolis, despite Al Jazira needing to run the gauntlet at feared Azadi Stadium if they are to secure a landmark 2018 AFC Champions League quarter-final berth.
A fevered crowd at Tehran’s infamous 78,116-capacity venue is expected on Monday for this anticipated continental decider. The teams played out a rollercoaster first leg at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium last week, from which 19-year-old defender Khalifa Al Hammadi’s 96th-minute header earned a 3-2 advantage for the Pride of Abu Dhabi.
Composure will be key in a cauldron atmosphere to earning a club-first progression into the round of 16.
“I know their strengths, but I also know their weaknesses,” said Ten Cate, 63, of the 11-time Persian Gulf Pro League winners.
“The pressure is on them, the big pressure is on Persepolis. A lot of people within the stadium, which mean extra stress.
“We are a small club from a small country and we came here to play in this beautiful city.
“It is a crazy city, according to traffic. We will enjoy the game of football and make the people in Abu Dhabi proud.”
Jazira have endured mixed fortunes throughout 2017/18.
Their limp Arabian Gulf League title defence ended with a distant seventh-placed finish. But they pushed Real Madrid all the way in December’s Club World Cup semi-finals and came through a tough Group A during continental competition.
“Qualifying for the big stage would save their season,” said Persepolis’ ex-Al Wahda boss, Branko Ivankovic.
“They have the advantage at 3-2. But there is still 90 minutes in front of our fans.”
The imposing Azadi looms over this decider. Yet, Ten Cate is expecting this to inspire – and not sink – his callow squad.
He said: “I remember and I recall the Club World Cup. It only excited my players and gave them an extra boost.”
The Dutchman boasts a fully-fit squad. Veteran captain Jalal Hosseini is back for Persepolis, but injury should rule out Iran defensive midfielder Kamal Kamyabinia.