UAE Can Count on Zaccheroni, Says Prandelli

Published October 26th, 2017 - 07:38 GMT
Prandelli believes Zaccheroni is the right man for the job
Prandelli believes Zaccheroni is the right man for the job

Alberto Zaccheroni has “important experience” and is “great for the challenge” of managing the UAE national team, according to fellow Italian Cesare Prandelli, who is also in Dubai coaching Al Nasr.

Former AC Milan and Japan coach Zaccheroni, 64, was appointed as Edgardo Bauza’s successor last week on a 16-month contract leading up to, and including, the UAE’s hosting of the 2019 Asian Cup.

There’s been a mixed reaction to his appointment given a gap of 12 years between his two major titles, winning the Italian league with AC Milan in 1999 and the Asian Cup with Japan in 2011. Between these high points, he failed to find much success during brief spells with Lazio, Inter and Juventus.

Since resigning as Japan coach in 2014 after failing to take them out of their World Cup group in Brazil, he has also had just one job, managing China’s Beijing Guoan during a brief and unsuccessful spell early last year.

Despite this, Prandelli, who managed Fiorentina and led Italy to the final of Euro 2012, said Zaccheroni was the right man for the job.

“I believe he has very important experience that he was exposed to during his career and if I’m not mistaken he spent four years in charge of Japan and their results were very positive, therefore I really think he’s great for this challenge,” said Prandelli.

“We spoke over the phone and we will surely meet as soon as we both have a free day. The impression I got is that he was very enthusiastic and he’s ready to work, and work hard, for this job. Because, as I know him, I’m sure he’s thinking a lot and if he agreed to take the challenge I’m sure he’s ready for it and can improve the national team even more.”

On a separate note, Prandelli also said he hoped 39-year-old Juventus and Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon could stave off retirement until after next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Buffon recently said he would only continue playing beyond this season if Juventus managed to win the Champions League, because then he would hang around to try and secure next year’s Club World Cup title as well.

But Prandelli — who managed Buffon while coach of Italy between 2010 and 2014 — wants the legendary keeper at next summer’s World Cup. Italy face Sweden in a play-off next month for a chance to reach Russia.

“Even if he’s 40, he’s still enthusiastic, continues working hard and wanting to improve himself and is very serious on the pitch,” he said. “So, I honestly hope he will continue.

“Dino Zoff won the World Cup at the age of 40,” he added in reference to another legendary Italy and Juventus keeper. “So, we are waiting for Buffon.”

By Ashley Hammond

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