Scolari unveiled at Bunyodkor
Former Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has been appointed as the new coach of Bunyodkor, according to the Uzbek side. The 60-year-old, who was dismissed by the Blues in February after barely six months in charge, has penned an 18-month contract, Bunyodkor announced. Scolari takes over from fellow Brazilian Zico who left the club in December to take up the hotseat at CSKA Moscow.
"Uzbek football now creates its own success story, especially Bunyodkor with its remarkable dynamism and prospects for the past four years," said Scolari.
"Completion of a new football stadium in the town of Tashkent, which is scheduled for March 2010, will open a new era for the club," he said. "I know that I am in the right place at the right time and in the right team."
Bunyodkor won the Uzbek league and cup double last year and also reached the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League. Scolari is bringing a team of assistant coaches to the Uzbek capital and will be reunited with midfielder Rivaldo, who was part of Brazil's winning side in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™. The fiery coach, usually known as Felipao [Big Phil] in his homeland, said he had been attracted by the chance to help improve the standards of football in the Central Asian country.
"I made a choice because of a number of details, which are difficult to explain in an interview, but it's basically because of the project which I was offered," said Scolari.
"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...."
"[I like] the way the club is taking on a new football reality in Uzbekistan. It offers me a project which is similar to ones in which I have already worked and which were very fulfilling for me," he said.
Scolari hopes to attract some more well-known players to the club and said he saw a bright football for Uzbeki football. Bunyodkor, which means builder in Uzbek, were founded less than four years ago as an amateur team and were promoted each year until they reached the top flight in 2007.
After a runners-up finish that year, they won the league and cup double the following season. The club said they are building a new 35,000-seat arena at a cost of $150 million, to be completed by March next year.
"In football terms, it's starting to show potential, there are good qualities and some interesting players," said Scolari.
"We need to start the project so that in four, five, ten years from now, Uzbekistan are competing on level terms, with the top national teams, to qualify for all the championships in which they take part."
Man on the move
Scolari played down money as a factor in his move. "The financial situation is part of all this but, in my opinion, this should be considered one of the least important factors," he said. "But the financial aspect often attracts a player or coach to a distant country such as Uzbekistan."
Scolari, who coached in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait earlier in his career, said he had not ruled out a return to Europe, but was also thinking of a final stint in Brazil.
"No, it's not over," he said. "I'm a professional and I work wherever they give me the chance to improve and where I can offer them some of my knowledge such as Bunyodkor.
"I don't know what will happen after my one-and-a-half year contract. There could be a project in Europe, but there's also a big possibility, after so many years away from Brazil...
"Maybe I will have a chance in 2010 or 2011 to work with a Brazilian team and then think about staying in Brazil permanently," said Scolari.
"I lived for six years in [Saudi] Arabia and Kuwait, then six years in Portugal and England, another year in Japan. So I have worked for 13 years outside Brazil and I imagine working for four or five [more] years."