Gallardo Takes the Helm: Al-Ittihad’s New Coach Eyes Club World Cup Glory

by | Nov 20, 2023 | Football

Al-Ittihad has officially announced the hiring of coach Marcelo Gallardo, aged 47, who signed a contract until mid-2025 with the option of renewal for two more seasons. His initial significant challenge will be the Club World Cup in December, where the team could potentially face Fluminense.

Gallardo, who traveled to Saudi Arabia this Saturday, expressed enthusiasm for the new opportunity, emphasizing the Club World Cup as a major goal. The Argentine coach had been without a club since the end of last year when he left River Plate after eight and a half seasons, securing 14 titles.

Despite rejecting offers from European clubs such as Lyon, Olympique de Marseille, and Sevilla, Gallardo chose Al-Ittihad, citing the chance to work in a developing football environment as one of the reasons. He takes over from Portuguese coach Nuno Espírito Santo, who led the team to the Saudi title last season but was dismissed after a poor start in 2023/24 and a disagreement with Karim Benzema.

Al-Ittihad’s next challenge is against Al-Ettifaq on November 24. Currently in fifth place in the Saudi Championship, the club will have Gallardo at the helm in an attempt to improve its position in the standings. The Club World Cup begins on December 12, and Al-Ittihad will start against Auckland City, with the possibility of facing Fluminense in the semifinals if they advance.

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