Former Chelsea right-back Dan Petrescu will arrive in Dubai today to take over at Arabian Gulf League strugglers Al Nasr following the dismissal of Ivan Jovanovic.
Former Romania international Petrescu, 48, had been in line for the role prior to Serbian Jovanovic taking the helm at Al Maktoum Stadium in June 2013, with a €12 million (Dh60m) release clause in his contract at Dynamo Moscow proving a stumbling block three years ago.
But the Blue Wave took to Twitter yesterday to announce that Jovanovic had been sacked and an agreement reached with former Jiangsu Suning and Al Arabi coach Petrescu to replace him following an atrocious start to the season.
The nightmare unfolded after a 3-0 first leg AFC Champions League quarter-final triumph against Qatar’s El Jaish in August was reversed following the revelation that summer signing Wanderley had been playing with a “forged or falsified” Indonesian passport.
Since then Nasr have gone on to lose six of their next 10 games in all competitions, including four in a row in the AGL, to lie ninth.
Friday’s 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Al Wahda was the final straw and 54-year-old Jovanovic was given his marching orders yesterday.
“Dan Petrescu will arrive in Dubai today and will be taking charge of training,” Nasr press officer Mohamed Mubarak told Sport360, adding that the 95-times capped defender will be officially unveiled at a press conference on Tuesday.
“The board took the decision to sack Ivan Jovanovic following a lot of meetings to discuss the club’s poor form in the league in recent weeks.
“During those meetings the board made a decision that Ivan Jovanovic could not continue to achieve the league objectives of the board this season.
“Another meeting took place with the coach following the Al Wahda defeat, in which the situation was discussed with the coach, and a decision was taken today after last night’s result.”
It’s a sad end to what had been a largely fruitful stint at Nasr for two-time former APOEL supremo Jovanovic.
He ended a 25-year trophy drought at Al Maktoum Stadium in May 2014 when he led the Blue Wave to the GCC Club Cup with a 4-2 aggregate win in the final against Oman’s Saham.
He followed that with an Arabian Gulf Cup and President’s Cup-double a year later – Nasr beating Sharjah 4-1 and Al Ahli 3-0 on penalties respectively.
Jovanovic is reportedly a candidate to replace UAE boss Mahdi Ali if a poor result in the Whites’ 2018 World Cup qualifier against Iraq next month leads to his sacking.