Xavi gets top Al Sadd job

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As expected, QNB Stars League champions Al Sadd have confirmed their former player Xavi Hernandez will be the new coach of the club. The former Spain and Barcelona midfield maestro played the last match of his glorious career on May 20 when Al Sadd lost 2-0 to Iranian giants Persepolis in their last group encounter of the AFC Champions League.

“Xavi Hernandez will take over as the head coach of Al Sadd from the beginning of the next season,” Al Sadd said in a statement yesterday. He has signed a two-year agreement and replaces Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira, who left Al Sadd after leading them to a 14th league title.

“After finishing my unforgettable career as a player, I am starting this new challenge with lots of enthusiasm and conscious of the responsibility to return the trust the club has given me,” Xavi wrote on his Instagram page.

The first game for Al Sadd under Xavi will be against compatriots Al Duhail in the last 16 of the Asian Champions League on August 6. Xavi’s coaching staff will consist of Sergio Oriol, Ivan Torres, Oscar Hernandez, Jose Manuel, David Barts, Antonio Lobo, Sergio Garcia and Antonio Troula.

Xavi, 39, made a record 767 appearances for Barca in a 17-year stint and 133 for Spain in his illustrious playing career before moving to Qatar in 2015 ahead of his transition into coaching.

Coming through Barcelona’s academy in 1998, Xavi soon became the heartbeat of the team’s midfield, winning eight La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns before joining Al Sadd, where he made 86 appearances, scoring 22 goals and assisting a further 28 strikes.

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At the end of last season, he renewed his contract for two years at Sadd but at the end of this season, he announced his plans to retire from playing to begin a coaching career. Al Sadd said the team are set to hold a training camp in Girona, near Barcelona from July 14 to 29.

In an interview earlier this month, Xavi confirmed he wants to take the helm at Camp Nou in the future, but said he wants to take baby steps into coaching with Sadd.

“My idea is to start managing here in Qatar to gain experience,” Xavi told EFE press agency. “This will set me up to return to European football and yes, hopefully, it will be Barcelona, but right now I am not in that position.

“I am not ready to take this sort of role at top level and I need to be able to take small steps before reaching my ultimate goal. I have many ideas and concepts of how I want football to be played and how I would like to pass that on to future players.

“I have always been a massive admirer of how Barcelona play, their control of the game and their style – it is something I want to reflect in my own career as coach,” he said Courtesy:GulfTimes