Aguirre appointed Al Wahda coach on one-year contract

Aguirre appointed Al Wahda coach on one-year contract

Mexican veteran succeeds Saudi Arabia’s Al Jaber in the hotseat

By Alex Leach (senior Reporter)

Published: Fri 19 Jun 2015, 2:17 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:11 PM

Mexican coach Javier Aguirre with Al Wahda officials after the signing. — Supplied photo

Dubai — Al Wahda have appointed the vastly-experienced Mexican coach Javier Aguirre as Sami Al Jaber’s successor at Al Nahyan Stadium for the forthcoming 2015/16 season. Nicknamed ‘El Vasco’ (the Basque), Aguirre has signed a one-year contract — with the option of an extension — at the Clarets, who finished fourth in the 14-strong Arabian Gulf League (AGL) last term.

In a statement on the club’s official website, Aguirre was hailed as a “qualified instructor” with a “good biography” who had been “able to achieve success in his career as a coach.”

It added he would be a “great asset” to the Clarets owing to his “experience in the field of training.”

His last job was with Japan, whom he led to the AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals where they lost on penalties to Mahdi Ali’s UAE XI in January. Aguirre was fired 11 days later after the Japanese Football Association confirmed that Spanish anti-corruption investigators had indicted him in relation to a match-fixing investigation concerning Real Zaragoza’s 2-1 victory against Levante on the final day of the 2010-2011 season.

Aguirre was Zaragoza’s manager at the time, but he has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing with regards to this matter.

He began his managerial career in his native homeland with Atlante (1995-1996) and Club Pachuca (1998-2001) prior to embarking on a series of coaching stints in international and Spanish football.

Aguirre guided Mexico to the final of the 2001 Copa America, where they lost 1-0 to hosts Colombia, and he took them to the Fifa World Cup in Japan and South Korea the following year. Mexico topped Group G ahead of runners-up Italy, Croatia and Ecuador, but they were eventually eliminated by the USA following a 2-0 defeat in the second round.

Aguirre then took up jobs in Spain with Osasuna (2002-2006) and Atletico Madrid (2006-2009), steering both to European football in the then-UEFA Cup and the latter back to the UEFA Champions League.

However, poor results in 2009 saw Aguirre sacked by Atleti and he returned to the Mexican national team to replace none other than that well-travelled Swede Sven Goran-Eriksson.

He got Mexico to their second FIFA World Cup under his two-spell stewardship in 2010 — an outcome that seemed decidedly unlikely at the time of Eriksson’s removal as head coach.

Nonetheless, he again couldn’t quite get them to reach the last eight as they lost in the second round once more — this time around, 3-1 to Argentina. They’d previously finished as the Group A runners-up behind Uruguay, but ahead of third-placed hosts South Africa and rock bottom France. Aguirre then had two relatively short-lived tenures at Real Zaragoza (2010-2011) and Espanyol (2012-2014).

At Zaragoza, he was unable to prevent them from slipping down into the relegation zone and he was ultimately relieved of his duties, with the club owner saying at the time that they’d never done so badly in their entire history.

To his credit, he staved off relegation while at Espanyol by three points in the 2013-2014 campaign, yet he still resigned from his position in May last year before going on to replace Alberto Zaccheroni as Japan’s national team coach. 

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