Revered former Ajax, Al Jazira and Al Wahda coach Henk ten Cate has cancelled retirement for the second time since May 2018, taking the reins at fallen Saudi Professional League giants Al Ittihad.
Ten Cate, 64, declined to renew his Clarets contract after he led them to third place in the 2018/19 Arabian Gulf League and into the AFC Champions League knockouts for the first time since 2007. The ex-Barcelona and Chelsea assistant had been tempted back into the game by them in December 2018, following a previous decision to call time on his 28-year managerial career when exiting Jazira as an icon following fourth place at the 2017 Club World Cup and shock top-flight title glory for 2016/17.
A sizeable fresh challenge now awaits at King Abdullah Sports City, on a deal which runs until the end of this season with an option to renew. The crisis-addled Tigers ditched Chilean Jose Luis Sierra – for the second time in 17 months – in October, with two subsequent SPL losses under caretaker Mohammed Al Abdali leaving them one point and one place outside the relegation places.
“Al Ittihad’s media centre announces the contract with Dutch coach Henk Ten Cate to train the first team,” said an official statement to announce the Jeddah side’s fourth permanent appointment since May 2018. “The contract runs to the end of the season, with the option of a renewal for another season.
“For his part, President Mr Anmar bin Abdullah Al Ha’ili confirmed that the decision to contract with coach Ten Cate came after a trade-off between a number of training files, with Ten Cate being found as the most appropriate to lead the team in the current stage.
“This is because he is used to the atmosphere of competition in our area after working in the UAE.”
Ten Cate’s debut in the dugout should be Friday’s King’s Cup opener against lower-league Al Riyadh.
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