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Gianfranco Zola named Cagliari boss

serie-a-logoGianfranco Zola has been named as the new head coach of Serie A side Cagliari.

The Sardinian side announced the hiring of the former Chelsea striker, who finished his playing career at Cagliari in 2005, in a statement on their official website. The club said the 48-year-old would take his first training session when the team returned from the Christmas break on Sunday.

It is Zola’s first coaching job since he left Watford in 2013. The club gave no details of Zola’s contract, but said his assistant would be another former Italy and Chelsea striker, Pierluigi Casiraghi.

“Both (Zola and Casiraghi) put their international experience and their winning mentality at the disposal of the company and the team to get the results that all the fans of Cagliari deserve,” a statement on the club’s official website said.

Zola replaces Zdenek Zeman, who was sacked on Tuesday. The former striker, a hero at Chelsea following his seven-year spell at Stamford Bridge, will be tasked with saving the club from relegation. They lie third from bottom of the table, three points from safety and without a win in eight league matches.

Zola spent two seasons at Cagliari as a player, helping them win promotion to Serie A. News of Zola’s appointment came after former Italy goalkeeper Walter Zenga ruled himself out of the running for the role. The 54-year-old, who was most recently in charge of Abu Dhabi club Al Jazira, intends to remain in the Middle East.

Quoted in La Gazzetta dello Sport, he said:

“I want to thank president Thomas Giulini and everyone at Cagliari for having thought about me as a coach. But, with regret, I have to decline. At this time, for both professional and personal reasons I intend to stay in Dubai and give my contribution to the football movement in this part of the world.

“I do feel satisfaction that I have been contacted by Cagliari, a team with a great tradition and an ambitious management.”