Zenga fired by Sampdoria, Palermo switch coaches

Published 11/11/2015, 1:48 AM EST
Al-Jazira UAE head coach Walter Zenga of Italy reacts during their AFC Championship League soccer match against Qatar Al-Rayyan in Doha April 16, 2014.REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad


MILAN (Reuters) – Former Italy goalkeeper Walter Zenga was fired as coach of Sampdoria after 14 matches on Tuesday while Palermo dismissed Giuseppe Iachini, despite beating Chievo 1-0 on Sunday, and brought in Davide Ballardini.

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Zenga was dispensed with two days after his side lost 2-0 at home to Fiorentina, leaving them 10th in Serie A.

“We’re sorry for the early conclusion of the professional relationship,” said the Genoa club in a statement.

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Zenga responded: “I do not feel betrayed. I’m glad I had the opportunity to coach a team which I have also represented as a player.

“The coach is constantly challenged. It’s part of the game. I leave the team in tenth place in the standings with two points less than (reigning champions) Juventus.”

Zenga, who played for Italy at the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, had been coaching in the Middle East for five years before joining Sampdoria in the close season.

He has previously coached Steaua Bucharest and Red Star Belgrade, but his experience in Italy was limited to one season with Catania and five months at Palermo.

Iachini had been in charge at Palermo for almost exactly two years, making him the longest-serving coach at the volatile club since Maurizio Zamparini took over as president in 2002.

He led Palermo out of Serie B in 2013-14 and took them to a better-than-expected 11th place last season.

However, he has had to rebuild this term after Argentine striker Paulo Dybala was sold to Juve.

“It’s a sad day when a coach such as Iachini has to leave,” said Zamparini, who has overseen 29 changes of coach in his 13 years in charge. “But I have to make decisions in the interests of Palermo football club, as I have always done.

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“It was a carefully considered decision. This season, we have not been in tune with Iachini, after those comments when he said that Palermo had a weak team. A person who does not start with the right motivation cannot do well.”

Ballardini, 51, was previously at Palermo in 2008/09.

There have been three other coaching changes in Serie A this season. Bologna fired Delio Rossi and replaced him with Roberto Donadoni in October, while newcomers Carpi dismissed Fabrizio Castori in September and brought in Giuseppe Sannino, but then reversed the change one month later.

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(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; editing by Ken Ferris)

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