Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic has distanced himself from the UAE national team job amid denied reports that the UAE Football Association are about to replace incumbent manager Alberto Zaccheroni.
Thursday’s 2-0 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago in a friendly, during a preparatory camp in Spain ahead of January’s Asian Cup hosting, has set off talk that the UAE are about to replace Zaccheroni.
Mamic, who led Al Ain to the league and cup double last season, said: “I’m extremely flattered and honoured that my name is mentioned in connection to the UAE national team [job], but the UAE has a coach. Mr Zaccheroni is a great coach with an amazing career and as Al Ain coach I am now totally focused on our next games. Al Ain will continue to support the national team just like always.”
The UAE FA also released a statement, which read: “The UAE FA denies what is circulating on social media about communicating with any coach to take over the leadership of the national team ahead of the Asian Cup. We appeal to everyone to stand behind the team and not confuse preparations for the tournament.”
Mamic last month criticised Zaccheroni for the timing of his national team camp after Al Ain were sanctioned for not fielding their best players in the Arab Club Champions Cup. The Croatian also accused the Italian of not communicating.
The Asian Cup will be played in the UAE from January 5 to February 1, where the hosts have been drawn in Group A alongside India, Bahrain and Thailand. Zaccheroni’s side next face Laos in a friendly in Girona on Tuesday, September 11, before flying back to the UAE on Wednesday.
Following the UAE’s 2-0 defeat to Trinidad on Thursday, Zaccheroni said: “We are still at the start of the season. The players have only played one round of the tournament. The performances will be evaluated and the errors will be corrected before Tuesday’s Laos match. We must be patient and not rush because we are still at the preparation stage.”
By Ashley Hammond
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