Al Gharafa sign Fernandez in new move
17 May 2017 - 10:51
Former Qatar Stars League (QSL) champions Al Gharafa have signed Jean Fernandez as coach for three years, it was announced yesterday.
The 62-year-old Frenchman, who was coach of Al Khor last season, has been tasked to build a team for the future.
Fernandez was unveiled as the new coach along with Mahmood Al Ghazal, head of football at Al Gharafa, and other club officials.
The Frenchman, who competed for France at the 1976 Summer Olympics, replaces Pedro Caixinha who joined Scottish giants Rangers two months ago.
"I am honoured to be given this opportunity," Fernandez said. "I thank the Al Gharafa club for showing confidence in me. I am at a team that has achieved a lot. It has a team with big players," he added.
"The club asked me to give young players the opportunity to step up to the first team," the new coach said.
"We could succeed by working and persevering to retrieve the image of Gharafa. We want to be crowned as champions again like how it was years ago" he said.
Al Ghazal said: "Mr Fernandez has a fine reputation as he has supervised many of the French football clubs including Marseille, Lille and Nice. The idea of signing him came after a meeting with him. We identified our targets and future the vision of Al Gharafa. We are looking to the future."
He said three of the four overseas players will continue with the possibility of Rachid Sumalia, who ended his loan from the Kuwaiti club Qadisiyah, in line for a fresh start at Al Gharafa.
"They will prepare for the next season with a training a camp starting on August 1 in Austria," he said.
Fernandez, a former mentor of French football star Franck Ribery, earlier said he was not going to renew his contract with Al Khor for the next season, despite helping the side avoid relegation to the Second Division. The new Al Gharafa coach has managed sides like Marseille, Nice, Al Nassr, FC Metz and Montpellier in his 32-year coaching career.
Al Gharafa are looking for regain lost glory. The Leopards won the QSL titles three years in a row from 2007 to 2010.
AL Gharafa finished the 2016-17 football season in fifth spot behind champions Lekhwiya, Al Sadd, Al Rayyan and El Jaish.