The waiting is over. White smoke has (or soon will have) billowed out of the FMF chimney.
Tigres coach Diego Cocca looks to be the next El Tri manager. The two-time Liga MX champ (Apertura 2021 and Clausura 2022, while coaching Atlas) is only awaiting final negotiations between the Mexican Soccer Federation and Tigres.
Once Cocca is officially anointed, he will become the second straight Argentine to take the reins of El Tri, an eventuality that will no doubt annoy Hugo Sánchez and the cognoscenti who insist that a Mexican manager should be in charge of the national team.
Cocca just took the Tigres job in November – becoming the highest-paid coach in Liga MX – and has the northern giant in third place after five matches.
Ownership selection committee moves quickly to fill El Tri vacancy
The pending announcement was not expected so quickly after the national team bosses hastily included two additional candidates over the weekend, Cocca being one of them.
With five options on the table after interviews and detailed reports compiled by national teams director Rodrigo Ares de Parga and sporting director Jaime Ordiales, the selection committee was expected to deliberate throughout the week.
But Wednesday evening, ESPN reporter David Faitelson broke the news:
Initial reports suggested Cocca would be able to finish the season with “los felinos” but before the night was over Tigres management announced they would let the coach depart immediately to take over the El Tri job full time.
Cocca might have benefited by the fact that two former bosses were on the selection committee comprised of five owners and FMF president Yon de Luisa.
The 50-year-old manager worked for Grupo Orlegi president Alejandro Irarragorri at Atlas, ending the Zorros’ 70-year title drought in a big way by leading the “Rojinegros” to back-to-back titles. He stepped away from the Guadalajara-based club on good terms with ownership before accepting the Tigres job.
Cocca also coached the Xolos of Tijuana in 2014, owned by Jorge Alberto Hank who is also on the selection committee.
Cocca’s career in Mexico
During his playing days (Cocca was a defender), the Campana, Argentina, native played for Atlas, Veracruz and Querétaro. He returned to Mexico in 2011 to coach Santos Laguna where he set an ignominious record: the worst start in franchise history. The Guerreros lost the first six games that Cocca was in charge and he was gone by the end of that season.
After three years coaching in Argentina and Colombia, Cocca returned to Mexico in 2014 and led the Xolos to a semifinal berth, but he was let go after a year in charge.
Then came a two-year stint at Rosario Central where he saved “Los Canallas” from relegation and helped the team earn a Copa Sudamericana berth.
In August 2020, Cocca accepted the Atlas job and in his second season there he had the Zorros in the Liga MX playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. A year later, he was hoisting the first of two Liga MX trophies.