Iraq vote delayed over coach death

Football federation says members will go to funeral, while Qatar deny link with Man Utd and Inter suggest Leonardo out.

    Leonardo could be the second coach in a row to only last half a season at Inter Milan [EPA]

    Iraqi Football Association officials say they are delaying elections due on Thursday until Saturday, following the death of a longtime Iraqi club manager.

    Football officials said the date was changed because many of the federation members would be attending funeral services on Thursday for a club manager from the northern province of Dohuk who died on Tuesday.

    Hamoud said FIFA, football's international governing body, has approved the date change.

    Meanwhile Qatar Holding has denied reports it is planning to buy Manchester United, a statement from the Gulf state's news agency said.

    Qatar Holding Chief Executive Officer Ahmed Mohamed Al Sayed told Qatar News Agency that the fund was not, and never had been, in negotiations to buy the club.

    Qatar recently acquired a 70 per cent stake in French top-flight team Paris St Germain, who have been linked with a move for Inter Milan coach Leonardo as their new sporting director.

    Leonardo may leave Inter and former Argentina boss Marcelo Bielsa has been contacted about possibly replacing him, the Serie A club's president Massimo Moratti said on Wednesday.

    Missed out

    Leonardo, who only took over at Inter in December before his side missed out on a sixth straight Serie A title when ex-club AC Milan won the scudetto, has been linked in the media with a sporting director job at Paris.

    "I believe there has been a first contact with Bielsa, but not by me," Moratti told reporters having denied the rumours on Tuesday.

    "Leonardo has coached with a lot of desire and passion but his aspirations for the future are not certain. It suits him to follow his dream and for us to look for a new coach. But it could well be that Leonardo changes his mind and we do too"

    Massimo Moratti, Inter coach

    "Leonardo has coached with a lot of desire and passion but his aspirations for the future are not certain.

    "It suits him to follow his dream and for us to look for a new coach. But it could well be that Leonardo changes his mind and we do too."

    Brazilian Leonardo led Milan to third place in Serie A in the 2009/10 season in his first job as a coach having been a director at the Rossoneri.

    He left after clashing with Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi over tactics while there were also reports he wanted to spend more time with his children in Brazil.

    Italian football was stunned when he suddenly reappeared as coach of Milan's great rivals Inter in December after Rafael Benitez was sacked after just half a season in charge.

    Inter, who won the treble under Jose Mourinho in 2010, struggled with Benitez as boss and improved under Leonardo but his tactics were criticised when losing to Milan in Serie A and Schalke in the European Champions League quarter-finals as holders.

    Argentine Bielsa has been out of work since leaving as Chile coach in February.

    The 55-year-old, whose unconventional methods have found fame, bossed Argentina from 1998 to 2004 but failed to win a major trophy.

    His only experience in Europe was a short spell with Spain's Espanyol in 1998.

    PSG, where Leonardo played in 1996-97, were recently bought by Qatari investors and reports in France have said Leonardo has held talks about reviving their fortunes as a sporting director.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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