Scolari to coach Uzbeks Bunyodkor
The World Cup-winning football coach has signed an unlikely 18-month contract with Bunyodkor, from Tashkent, Uzbekistan
A World Cup-winning coach who was in charge at Chelsea, one of Europe;s biggest clubs, until he was sacked in February, Luiz Felipe Scolari is one of the highest-profile managers in world football. So why has he just signed an 18-month contract with Bunyodkor, an up-and-coming team from Tashkent, Uzbekistan?
Scolari, 60, admits that money was a factor but said there were other, bigger reasons for his unexpected move to Central Asia: "The ideas of the club president, the way I was received by the public on the two occasions I was in Uzbekistan, the project for the stadium, which will be finished in March, seven training camps... Uzbek football is on an upswing right now while Bunyodkor is a very dynamic club with great potential."
Scolari, a Brazilian whose nomadic career has previously taken him to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Japan, is certainly right about Bunyodkor's ambition. The stadium that they're building will cost $150m and have a capacity of 35,000.
Bunyodkor, which means builder in Uzbek, began life as an amateur side only four years ago, but have since won a domestic league and cup double under Zico, another famous Brazilian coach. They reached the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League, signed Rivaldo, the veteran striker, on an astonishingly generous contract, and even came close to landing Barcelona star Samuel Eto'o. "I know that I am at the right place in the right time", Scolari said.