Dubai: Al Nasr coach Walter Zenga welcomed new technical advisor Sven-Goran Eriksson to the club with a 1-0 away win over derby foes Al Wasl on Saturday.
The 64-year-old Swede signed an 18-month contract with the Oud Mehta club last week and oversaw their crucial grudge match from the stands.
Zenga, 52, had previously remained cool on talk of his former Sampdoria coach joining, prompting Eriksson to deny he was after the Italian’s job.
But following their first win together, the Al Nasr coach opened up about his relationship with the Swede, ending speculation of foreseeable friction between the pair.
“Sven was my coach at Sampdoria for two years,” said Zenga. “I say every time that he was the coach that gave me the chance to become a coach, because in the second year under his leadership I tore my cruciate ligament and was out for six months.
“From that point of view, I was able to understand his choice in players in certain situations and how he adjusted the team.”
Zenga added: “I wish Sven all the best in his job here at Al Nasr and I hope he can contribute to helping the players develop.”
Bruno Cesar headed Al Nasr in front just after the half-hour from a Guiseppe Mascara corner. He could have added another just after the interval when his shot, first wrestled from Lucas Neill’s possession, hit the woodwork. Achille Emana’s deflected free-kick, 10 minutes from time, bobbled just wide of the post as Al Wasl sought an equaliser, but in the end defensive Al Nasr held on for the three points.
Al Wasl coach Guy Lacombe, who was without injured midfielders Mariano Donda and Mahmoud Shikabala, said: “This is the first time for me as a coach to experience such circumstances. We are really suffering through injuries and we have big problems. If Shikabala had been here the result would have been different.
“Achille Emana did well to replace Donda but three days with the club is insufficient time to have good chemistry with the team he needs more training to merge.”