'Survival specialist' Ben Zekri takes charge at Al Okhdood

Roshn Saudi League side Al Okhdood have announced the appointment of Noureddine Ben Zekri as their new head coach.

The Algerian joins on a short-term deal until the end of the 2023-24 season. Ben Zekri replaces Martin Sevela, who had himself only joined the club in November, starting life in Najran brightly with a run of three wins in his first five matches.

However, a poor patch of six losses in their past seven outings sealed the fate of the Slovak coach, who leaves Al Okhdood in 16th, one point adrift of safety with seven matches remaining.

Renowned as a RSL "survival specialist", this will be Ben Zekri’s fourth adventure in the Saudi Arabian top flight. He first arrived to the Kingdom in the 2013-14 campaign, helping Al Raed finish ninth, three points above the relegation places.

Al Fayha, then in their second season in the RSL, called upon Ben Zekri’s expertise in February 2019 to ensure their place in the division - and he delivered. A 5-2 win against Al Wehda on the final matchday secured safety for Al Fayha as they finished one point outside the drop zone.

The 59-year-old’s most recent RSL rescue job came when he was hired by Damac in December 2019. With the team languishing at the bottom of the table, he produced a spectacular escape with a run of seven unbeaten matches, including five wins, to help Damac end the 2019-20 campaign in 10th place, three points safe.

The new Al Okhdood manager starts life in the RSL on Saturday, with an emotional reunion against former club Damac.