Emotional Setien surprised to be given dream job at Barcelona

Quique Setien with FC Barcelona’s President Josep Maria Bartomeu, center, and director of football Eric Abidal, right, after being introduced as the club’s new coach at the Camp Nou stadium. (AP Photo)
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Updated 14 January 2020

Emotional Setien surprised to be given dream job at Barcelona

  • Setien was unveiled at a press conference at the Camp Nou after the club’s announcement that he would replace the sacked Ernesto Valverde
  • Setien takes charge after an impressive spell at Real Betis, which ended last summer, and with Barcelona top of La Liga

BARCELONA: Quique Setien said on Tuesday that being appointed Barcelona coach was beyond his “wildest dreams” and has vowed to stay true to his beliefs in exciting, attacking football.
Setien was unveiled at a press conference at the Camp Nou, after the club’s announcement late on Monday that he would replace the sacked Ernesto Valverde.
“Not even in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being here, I am quite an emotional person and today is a special day for me,” Setien said after signing his contract in front of the media.
“Yesterday I was walking past cows in my village and today I am at Barca, coaching the best players in the world. This is the pinnacle for me.”
Sitting alongside Setien was club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and sporting director Eric Abidal.
Bartomeu admitted the dismissal of Valverde should have been handled better and also revealed Setien’s contract until June 2022 contains a break clause. It means Setien can be removed in 2021 after the club’s presidential elections.
Setien takes charge after an impressive spell at Real Betis, which ended last summer, and with Barcelona top of La Liga.
A former player for Atletico Madrid and Racing Santander, Setien once said he would cut off his little finger to have played under Johan Cruyff. As a coach, he has dedicated his career to a possesion-based style that has earned him a reputation as a purist.
“I didn’t need even five minutes to accept the job,” said Setien. “I never thought Barca would go for me. I don’t have a glittering CV or many titles but I have demonstrated even before being a coach that I love a certain philosophy.
“And all I have done is ensure my previous teams have all played good football. I don’t know if that was enough to earn me this opportunity but I am grateful for it, nothing else.”
Setien added: “I am a person with clear convictions. I have very clear ideas. I listen to everyone but I am the first to defend what I believe. If we have to die with our ideas, we will die with them because Barca has to follow its path.”
Setien will be without Luis Suarez, who will need four months to recover from a knee injury, but he has Lionel Messi, who has scored 16 goals in 20 games this season.
“To start coaching the best player in the world and the players around him, I’m still not sure what that means,” said Setien.
“I have talked to him and some others and I have already told him about the admiration I feel for him.”
Valverde won La Liga in each of his two seasons in charge but Bartomeu said the club needed a boost.
“We knew the dynamic was not the best even if the results were very good,” said Bartomeu. “We have made the change now because we are in the middle of the season and we needed a boost. With this new dynamic we want to win the league, the Champions League and the cup.”
Barcelona have been accused of a lack of respect for Valverde after their seach for a replacement, including offering the job to Xavi Hernandez, was widely reported over the weekend.
“Of course I wish things had been done differently,” Bartomeu said. “But in recent weeks and months we have spoken to other coaches, it’s always like that, and nothing has come out.”


Amaala lift champion trophy in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever desert polo tournament

Updated 19 January 2020

Amaala lift champion trophy in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever desert polo tournament

  • Amaala earned the bragging rights as the 2020, and inaugural, AlUla Desert Polo champions

JEDDAH: Renowned Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras scored all his side’s goals as Amaala hammered out an emphatic 7-3 victory over host team AlUla to win the Kingdom’s first-ever desert polo tournament on Saturday at AlUla UNESCO heritage site.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki bin Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, presented the trophy to Amaala after the final.

The event forms part of Winter at Tantora festival, featuring international polo players, who had the experience of playing on compacted desert sand instead of grass amid the stunning surroundings at AlUla.

The Royal Commission of AlUla organized the three-day tournament in cooperation with the newly formed Saudi Polo Federation.

In winning the tournament, Amaala earned the bragging rights as the 2020, and inaugural, AlUla Desert Polo champions.

Players from all over the world took part, including team members from the world famous La Dolfina polo outfit from Argentina, including Adolfo Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling and Pablo Mac Donough.

In the match for third place, Al Nahla Bentley defeated Team Richard Mille 4-2 with Sheikha Alya Maktoum scoring a hat trick of goals.

Figueras said: “It’s an amazing place with an amazing history, an amazing heritage and an amazing first tournament for the Saudi Polo Federation. I’m very honored to be here and I’m delighted that we were able to win.

“This country is going through a transformation and there are amazing years to come.”

Mac Donough added: “For us it was a completely new place; polo-wise Saudi Arabia wasn’t something we were doing before. Having the chance to come to such an amazing country and having the chance to play a tournament and promote the sport, all this makes us feel very proud and we hope we can continue it.”

Saudi Polo Federation chairman, Amr F. Zedan, who played for Team Richard Mille during the tournament, said: “I see this event as a launching pad for the future. We have big plans for polo in Saudi Arabia that include the establishment of development programs and the construction of facilities to assist in building a polo infrastructure in The Kingdom.”

Amr Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission of AlUla, said: “Our tourism strategy for AlUla has been built around certain anchors — heritage, culture, nature and arts. Equestrianism has always been a key industry for us, and the surroundings here make AlUla one of the best locations to ride horses.”