Former Mexico striker Sanchez named as Necaxa coach

September 25, 2006

MEXICO CITY, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Former Mexico and Real Madrid striker Hugo Sanchez has been named as the new coach of first division club Necaxa, ending 11 months out of the game.

The Aguascalientes club also announced that former Ecuador captain Alex Aguinaga would take over as their sporting director.

The outspoken Sanchez, who resigned as coach of UNAM after four years in charge last October, replaces Enrique Zarza Lopez, who was sacked hours before Necaxa's match away to UNAM on Sunday.

'I'm happy with this adventure and I thank the club for the confidence they have shown in me,' said the 48-year-old Sanchez. 'I know that the results will be favourable.'

His debut will be on Saturday when Necaxa are at home to UAG.

Sanchez, widely regarded as the finest player Mexico has produced, remains a strong candidate to take over the Mexican national team, a position which has been vacant since Ricardo La Volpe's contract ended at the World Cup.

Sanchez was five times leading scorer in the Spanish championship during his days with Real Madrid and played for his country at the 1978, 1986 and 1994 World Cups.

He began his coaching career with UNAM, nicknamed the Pumas, in 2000 but resigned over personal differences with the club president.

He returned the following year and led the Pumas to back-to-back Mexican titles in 2004.

However, he made as many headlines for his outspoken comments as for his team's exploits on the pitch.

Sanchez launched a bitter campaign against La Volpe, a personal rival from his playing days, and predicted that he would replace the Argentine in time for this year's World Cup.

He also said the Mexican federation was afraid of him and criticised the policy of playing most of the team's friendly internationals in the United States.

However, Sanchez's rhetoric lost much of its credibility when UNAM suffered a dramatic loss of form last year.

Aguinaga won more than 100 caps for Ecuador and spent most of his playing career with Necaxa.

The changes at the club came after Javier Perez Teuffer took over as president, replacing Justino Compean who has been elected president of the Mexican Football Federation (FMF).

Necaxa, one of three clubs owned by the Televisa network, are bottom of Group One in the Apertura championship with 10 points from the same number of games.