HomeFootball NewsGianfranco Zola Takes Bold Leap to Coach in Qatar, Embracing 'Calculated Risk'

Gianfranco Zola Takes Bold Leap to Coach in Qatar, Embracing ‘Calculated Risk’


Former Italian football sensation Gianfranco Zola has decided to venture into uncharted territory, turning down lucrative management offers from England and Italy to embrace a new challenge as the head coach of Qatari side Al Arabi. The announcement, which caught many by surprise, showcases Zola’s daring and bold approach to redefining his coaching career.

Having enjoyed illustrious spells at clubs like Chelsea, Napoli, and Parma during his playing days, Zola brings a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the beautiful game to his new role. Signing a two-year deal with the seven-times Qatari champions, Zola aims to make his mark on the Qatar Stars League alongside his assistant, former Italian forward Pierluigi Casiraghi.

In a recent interview with Doha Stadium Plus, Zola acknowledged the enormity of his decision, stating, “I know I’m taking a big gamble by leaving behind offers from Italy and England and taking up a coaching position in Qatar.” Despite this, Zola exuded confidence in himself, his coaching staff, and the Arabi management. His previous work as a television pundit in Qatar has provided him with valuable insights into the league and its teams, making him no stranger to the country’s football landscape.

“It’s a calculated risk,” Zola emphasized, “I’ve good knowledge of the Qatar Stars League and its teams. I’ve a feeling we’ll do well.”

However, Zola’s coaching journey has not always been smooth sailing. He faced challenges during his tenure in England with West Ham United and Watford, as well as back home with Cagliari, where he faced the brunt of a sacking in March. Despite these setbacks, Zola’s determination and resilience have never wavered.

Jokingly, Zola expressed his hopes that his new bosses at Al Arabi could add some star quality to the squad, even going as far as playfully suggesting, “If the club is willing to buy Lionel Messi for me, that’ll be my first requirement. I’ll then be the happiest man on earth.”

Yet, Zola’s true aspiration lies in elevating the quality of local players, recognizing that nurturing homegrown talents is vital for the team’s long-term success. Foreign players can certainly contribute, but Zola believes the real impact lies in developing raw talent within the country. He trusts his experienced staff to make a tangible difference on this front.

Our View:

Undoubtedly, Zola’s decision to embark on this new coaching adventure in Qatar carries an element of risk. Heading to the Middle East may seem like a less conventional path in world football, but it presents an opportunity for Zola to both enrich his coaching skills and boost his bank balance. The likes of England coach Roy Hodgson, who spent two seasons in the United Arab Emirates, have demonstrated that such experiences can be valuable assets.

With Xavi representing Al Sadd this season, Zola’s move to Qatar signals the league’s growing appeal to renowned football figures. While some may view it as a pension top-up, it shouldn’t overshadow the qualities Zola will undoubtedly bring to the Qatar league. His commitment to enhancing the youth talent in the league aligns with his reputation for nurturing players and could significantly impact the future of football in the country.

In conclusion, Gianfranco Zola’s leap of faith into Qatari football epitomizes his tenacity and desire to embrace new challenges. With his coaching prowess and understanding of the game, Zola is poised to make a lasting impression on the Qatar Stars League. As he immerses himself in this unique football landscape, we anticipate a remarkable chapter in the storied career of this football legend.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.


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