SHAMKA // Abdullah Misfir was named as the new UAE coach by the Football Association last night, succeeding Srecko Katanec, who was fired shortly after the 3-1 defeat to Lebanon in the 2014 World Cup qualifier last week.
“He will be in charge for the remaining games in the 2014 World Cup qualifier,” said Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi, the FA president, at half time of the Super Cup match between Al Jazira and Al Wahda at the Baniyas Stadium last night, which Wahda won 7-6 on penalties.
“We had three Emirati coaches for the job, and Abdullah was the one who was keen on the job. He is vastly experienced and has worked with the FA on numerous occasions. He has been coaching for more than 15 years at different levels and age-group teams.”
Misfir had a similar role when he was placed in charge of the national team from August 1999 to February 2000. He was also the assistant to the Frenchman, Dominique Bathenay, who had a caretaker role in 2005 before compatriot Bruno Metsu’s appointment in 2006.
“We have also given him two assistants, Khalifa Mubarak and Hassan Ibrahim. Abdullah and his two assistants are all pro license holders, the highest qualification of a coach,” said Al Rumaithi.
“They will work as a team and they will also decide the technical staff of their choice. The medical staff will remain the same and the two administrators, Ismail Rashid and Fahad Ali, has a choice to work under him. Let them decide.”
Al Rumaithi refused to disclose the other names, but it was believed Mahdi Ali, the coach of the Olympic team, who was expected to be the first choice, had turned down the offer after the FA’s first meeting at their Abu Dhabi headquarters on Thursday.
Rumaithi conceded that Ali was a popular choice, but they chose to allow him to concentrate on his job with the Olympic team.
“Mahdi is doing an excellent job and we don’t want to put undue pressure on him. We have high hopes in qualifying for the 2012 London Games and we will leave him to focus on his job for now,” he said.
In the third round of Asian World Cup qualifying, the UAE are bottom of Group B after two defeats in as many matches and they next play South Korea away on October 11, before they host the return leg a month later.
The Koreans are favourites to top the group with Kuwait or the UAE expected to qualify behind them as the second team. However, with Kuwait holding the Koreans to a 1-1 result, the UAE’s chances have become much harder after the two defeats.
Misfir will have to pull out something of a miracle to revive their hopes but Al Rumaithi was adamant that the UAE can advance.
“We know it is tough for us to qualify to the next stage from the position we are in … but we still have hopes,” he said. “The new coach will draw up his programme and I am sure the players, as well as the technical staff, will rally around him to revive our hopes.
“In football, we can never predict what’s next. South Korea are the favourites in the group but they are not unbeatable. A good result against them will put us back in the race …
“The new coach is familiar with the players and we are pretty sure he will get around them more quickly. He has been following the national team as well as the players and would know his role well and adapt quickly to the team’s need at the moment.”
Misfir’s last job was with Shaab, the First Division club, last season. He has been without a job until called in by the FA to replace Katanec.
“Katanec did a good job for us but he couldn’t motivate the players anymore,” Al Rumaithi said. “The 3-1 defeat to Lebanon was unexpected and cannot be accepted as we have never been beaten by them.”