From Braga to Vercauteren via Sabella: Al Jazira’s boss hunt finally ends

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Al Jazira’s hunt for a new coach followed the depature of Abel Braga on May 20 finally came to an end on Sunday night with the unveiling of Belgian Franky Vercauteren.

It had been 93 days since Braga announced his decision to quit the club and return to his native Brazil after a three-year stay in the UAE capital, the last of which culminated in the club winning their first ever Pro League title, not to mention the President’s Cup.

During the last three months the Abu Dhabi giants have dominated the headlines. From Luiz Felipe Scolari being linked with the vacancy to Alejandro Sabella’s all too brief tenure; from Raymond Domenech throwing his hat into the ring to Venezuela’s highly-rated coach Cesar Farias snubbing an offer. There has not been a dull moment.

And Sport360° has been there every step of the way to keep you bang up to date with all the goings on from the biggest soap opera of the summer. Here, James Piercy charts the sequence of events that finally led to Vercauteren being told: ‘You’re hired!’

April 11 – Al Jazira win the President’s Cup final at Sheikh Zayed Satdium, beating arch-rivals and Abu Dhabi neighbours Al Wahda 4-0.

May 17 – Al Jazira are confirmed as Pro League champions for the first time in their history following a 4-0 drubbing of Al Wasl at the Zabeel Stadium.

May 20 – Abel Braga announces he will step down as coach to be closer to his family in his native Brazil. He later accepts the managerial job at Brazilian champions Fluminense, whom he played for during his career.

May 27 – It emerges former Brazilian national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is among several candidates being considered by the Jazira board for the vacant managerial post.

June 6 – Al Jazira are presented with the Pro League trophy in front of a sold-out Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

June 9 – Former Estudiantes coach Alejandro Sabella is spotted at Abu Dhabi Marina, fuelling speculation he set to take over as Jazira coach.

June 10 – Sabella is confirmed as Jazira’s new coach on a one-year deal. He returns to Argentina and is expected back in July to undertake pre-season training.

July 1 – Argentina begin their Copa America campaign on home soil with a disappointing 1-1 draw with Bolivia.

July 16 – After qualifying for the knockout stages as Group A runners-up, Argentina are eliminated by Uruguay on penalties.

July 25 – Despite initially receiving a vote of confidence from the AFA, Sergio Batista is dismissed as Argentine national coach.

July 28 – It emerges Sabella will renege on his Jazira contract to succeed Batista as Argentina coach.

July 30 – Al Jazira chairman Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed reveals the club “respect” Sabella’s decision.

August 1 – Al Jazira approach Venezuelan coach Cesar Farias but he rejects the chance to join the UAE champions.

August 2 – Sabella is confirmed as Argentina’s new coach until after the 2014 World Cup, admitting he could not turn down the “one of the biggest jobs in football.”

August 3 – Former French national team coach Ramond Domenech declares his interest in the job.

August 7 – Talks emerge between Jazira and Racing Genk coach Franky Vercauteren, who led them to the Belgian Jupiler League title in 2010/11.

August 9 – Vercauteren asks Jazira if they can delay his appointment so he can coach Genk during their two Champions League qualifiers.

August 10 – Jazira confirm Vercauteren will stay with Genk for at least another two games.

August 17 – Genk lose the first leg of their Champions League qualifier 2-1 against Maccabi Haifa.

August 18 – Vercauteren says goodbye to the Genk team and boards a plane in Istanbul bound for Abu Dhabi.

August 19 – Vercauteren attends training at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, alongside his assistant Hugo Broos.

August 21 – Vercauteren is confirmed as Al Jazira coach on an initial one-year contract.

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