UAE FA tight-lipped on candidates to replace Mahdi Ali

Published April 13th, 2017 - 05:18 GMT
Association keeping mum over reports linking Claudio Ranieri and Jurgen Klinsmann with the job
Association keeping mum over reports linking Claudio Ranieri and Jurgen Klinsmann with the job

The UAE Football Association (UAE FA) are remaining tight-lipped on the names of four candidates being considered to replace Mahdi Ali as coach of the UAE national team.

A four-man shortlist has been forwarded by the selection committee to the board, chaired by UAE FA president Marwan Bin Ghalita.

Negotiations will begin shortly after which Mahdi Ali’s successor will be announced.

The shortlist is thought to include internationally renowned coaches from Europe and South America, but none of these candidates are thought to be incumbents at, or recent departures from, UAE clubs.

On Tuesday, Dubai Sports Channel reported that the four names were; Italian former Greece and Leicester City coach Claudio Ranieri, German former USA and Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Argentinian current Peru boss Ricardo Gareca, and fellow Argentinian Edgardo Bauza, who was sacked by his national side this week.

But Al Ittihad newspaper has also reported that the following are being considered; Dutch former Holland and Manchester United coach Louis Van Gaal, Italian former England manager Fabio Capello, Brazilian current Guanghzhou Evergrande and former Brazil boss Luis Felipe Scholari, and Italian former Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni.

Initial reports had suggested that Serbian former Al Nasr coach Ivan Jovanovic was a front-runner along with Argentinian former national coach Alejandro Sabella, with Al Ahli’s Romanian coach Cosmin Olaroiu and Croatian former Al Ain tactician Zlatko Dalic also mentioned.

However, it is thought attention has since moved away from coaches with local experience, towards those with World Cup exposure.

When asked about names mentioned in recent reports, a source at the UAE FA said: “Please be informed that the UAE coach names have not been announced yet.

“All media are discussing names, but so far nothing has been officially announced.”

Particular doubt surrounds Ranieri’s candidacy as he revealed just last week that he would rather manage a club than a country.

Whoever takes charge will be tasked with leading the UAE into their own hosting of the 2019 Asian Cup followed by qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Mahdi Ali stepped down after a 2-0 defeat away to Australia last month, which all but ended the UAE’s hopes of qualifying to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The Whites are now four points off third with three games remaining. Only the top two qualify automatically, while the third-placed side goes into a cross-continental play-off.

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