Doha: Former Italy forward Gianfranco Zola said he has taken a gamble in turning down management offers from England and at home to take charge of Qatari side Al Arabi.
The former Chelsea, Napoli and Parma playmaker signed a two-year deal with the seven-times Qatari champions on Tuesday, bringing with him another ex Italian forward Pierluigi Casiraghi to assist.
"I know I’m taking a big gamble by leaving behind offers from Italy and England and taking up a coaching position in Qatar," Zola, who was most recently working as a television pundit in Qatar, was quoted as saying by Doha Stadium Plus on Wednesday.
"It’s a calculated risk. I believe in myself, my staff and the Arabi management. I’m not a total stranger to Qatar either. I’ve good knowledge of the Qatar Stars League and its teams. I’ve a feeling we’ll do well."
Zola has struggled for management success in England with West Ham United and Watford and at home with Cagliari, who sacked him in March.
The Italian joked he hoped his new bosses, who dismissed another former Chelsea player in Dan Petrescu before finishing eighth in the 12-team league, would add some star quality to the squad.
"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," he said.
"But for me, the real challenge is to improve the quality of local players. It’s key to our ability to win major titles in the long run. Foreign players can only help to a certain extent. My staff is experienced at developing raw talent. We can really make a difference."