Ivan Hasek, the coach of Al Ahli, said that Dominique Bathenay, who was expected to be offered the job of national coach by the UAE Football Association last night, will have a tough act to follow. Bruno Metsu's former assistant was being offered a contract to become the UAE's 29th coach last night following Metsu's decision to step down on Sunday after World Cup qualifying defeats against North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
The UAE FA's first choice, the national youth team coach Juma Rabea, turned them down and they were discussing a contract with Bathenay last night. Al Shabab's Toninho Cerezo, Al Ain's Winfried Schaefer and Hasek were also on the shortlist. Hasek, who has also managed Sparta Prague, Racing Strasbourg and Saint-Étienne and captained Czechoslovakia in the 1990 World Cup, was not looking to leave his position. "I have a contract here and I am very happy at Al Ahli," he said. "Metsu has done a great job here in the UAE - he led the country to the Gulf Cup title.
"I am sure most of the people will not be happy that he has left. "He did well to take the UAE to the final round of qualifying, his successor will have really big shoes to fill." The FA quickly dismissed speculation linking Cosmin Olaroiu, the Romanian coach of Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal, with the post, saying that they wanted someone already based in the Emirates. Abdullah Hassan, the team manager of the national side during Metsu's reign, paid tribute to the departed Frenchman.
"Metsu is a fantastic person," he said. "He is a gentleman with a lot of charisma. "He is very good on both the technical as well as the personal sides. I learned a lot from him. I learned how to deal with national games and that experience is really important for me. I worked for two-and-a-half years with him and I also learnt how things work around international games. "But this is football - everything doesn't go as you want it.
"We cannot say what is going to happen in the future. What we can say is that now we need someone who can motivate the players. We still have our chances [of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup] and we still have targets to achieve. "We need someone who can get the best out of this mix of hope and determination to reach those targets. We trust our players and we have full confidence in them. We need someone to work on the mental side with players."