UAE to name new national team coach on Wednesday

Published April 16th, 2017 - 05:26 GMT
Marcelo Bielsa
Marcelo Bielsa

The UAE Football Association (UAE FA) will pick the next national team manager to succeed Mahdi Ali from a shortlist of four on Wednesday.

The UAE FA had said that they would confirm the appointment by Saturday (April 15), but a spokesman has said that the board needed more time.

The undisclosed shortlist is said to include four coaches from Europe and South America.

Reports in South America suggest current Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has been approached with an offer, but it is unlikely that the 67-year-old Argentinian can be tempted away from Los Cafeteros (The Coffee Growers) as they are on the verge of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Pekerman previously led Argentina to the 2006 World Cup where they lost in the quarter-finals to hosts Germany. He then led Colombia to the 2014 World Cup where they also lost in the quarter-finals to hosts Brazil.

Reports locally have also stated that former Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain coach Gabriel Calderon was on his way to the UAE to negotiate terms.

The 57-year-old Argentinian, who hasn’t worked since being sacked by Dubai-side Al Wasl last summer, has good regional coaching experience, but doesn’t match the UAE FA’s selection criteria of being a renowned World Cup coach.

Another Argentinian, Marcelo Bielsa, 61, who failed to get Argentina out of their group at World Cup 2002 and who led Chile to the Last 16 of World Cup 2010 where they were eliminated by Brazil, has also been mentioned and is a free agent since leaving Lazio last year.

Recurring names include Ricardo Gareca, the Argentinian coach of Peru. He only has international experience with Peru, who are four points off a World Cup play-off place with four games remaining.

Argentinian Edgardo Bauza, aged 59, who has just been sacked by Argentina, has also been touted, along with 64-year-old Italian former Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni, who has been out of work since being sacked by Beijing Guoan, last year.

Mahdi Ali resigned as the UAE coach last month after a 2-0 defeat away to Australia left The Whites’ 2018 World Cup qualifying hopes in tatters.

They are now four points off a necessary third-place play-off place with three games remaining.

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 neighbouring Qatar.

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