Floundering Al Ahli Jeddah supremo Branko Ivankovic is expected to be imminently confirmed as the first managerial casualty of the 2019/20 Saudi Professional League, according to widespread reports.
Ivankovic, 65, witnessed his brief reign at King Abdullah Sports City plumb new depths on Saturday with a rancorous 2-1 home loss to Al Wehda. Condemnation reigned down from scarcely attended stands, with calls for change reaching fever pitch after only two miserable months in charge.
The defeat followed a season-opening 1-1 draw with top-flight debutants Al Adalah and a fortunate 2-1 triumph at Ettifaq. Elimination in the 2019 AFC Champions League’s round of 16 was also recorded last month versus Al Hilal, the generous 4-3 aggregate scoreline owing much to the Riyadh side sitting back on their dominant first-leg advantage.
Further issues included a reportedly tempestuous relationship with star striker Omar Al Somah, plus unpropitious starts for foreign additions such as Serbia forward Danijel Aleksic – already sold to Istanbul Basaksehir – and Bosnia midfielder Elvis Saric.
Verification of Ivankovic’s departure will mean that Ahli are searching for their fifth permanent coach since the beginning of 2017/18.
Ukraine legend Serhiy Rebrov was sacked in April after the SPL crown was lost to Al Hilal by a single point and replaced by caretaker Fathi Al Jabal. Argentina’s Pablo Guede lasted from July 2018-February 2019 and Uruguay veteran Jorge Fossati endured an abysmal 68-day spell at the helm until April.
Ivankovic was then unable to replicate his success in Iran with giants Persepolis and has likely paid with his job.
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