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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Alberto Zaccheroni confirmed as UAE football manager

Italian, who led Japan to 2011 Asian Cup crown, believed to have agreed to 16-month deal

Alberto Zaccheroni will succeed Edgardo Bauza as UAE manager. Getty Images
Alberto Zaccheroni will succeed Edgardo Bauza as UAE manager. Getty Images

Alberto Zaccheroni has been confirmed as the new UAE national team manager on an initial 16-month deal.

The Italian, who led Japan to the 2011 Asian Cup crown, signed his contract on Monday, bringing him through to the conclusion of the 2019 Asian Cup, which takes place in the Emirates.

There is an option to renew should the appointment prove a success. Zaccheroni, 64, succeeds Edgardo Bauza, who left last month to head up Saudi Arabia's 2018 World Cup campaign. The Argentine was in charge for only three competitive matches.

Zaccheroni, who will be presented to the media on Tuesday at the UAE Football Association, takes the reins of a national team seeking to recover from the disappointment of failing to qualify for next year’s World Cup.

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Last month, the UAE missed out on a spot in Russia, finishing fourth in their group behind Japan, Saudi Arabia and Australia. They have only once before appeared at a global finals, in 1990.

The FA president, Marwan bin Ghalita, has publicly targeted the Asian Cup final in little more than a year’s time. Fifa’s latest world rankings, released on Monday, place the UAE as the seventh best team on the continent, at 72nd in the overall standings.

In Zaccheroni, the FA are convinced they have the right man for the role, particularly because of his success and experience in Asian football. The former AC Milan, Juventus, Lazio and Inter Milan manager was installed at Japan in 2010 and guided the East Asians to the continental title the following year - the last time they have won the trophy.

Japan qualified for the 2014 World Cup during Zaccheroni’s tenure, although they were eliminated at the group stage. He left immediately after the tournament in Brazil. Zaccheroni was most recently employed at Beijing Guoan in the Chinese Super League, but lasted only five months there, leaving in May last year.

Zaccheroni's availability played its part, given the FA's two other primary targets, Ricardo Gareca and Jorge Luis Pinto, are currently attempting to lead national teams to the World Cup. They manage Peru and Honduras, respectively.

The FA were not prepared to wait until next month for those campaigns to be resolved, since they wished to go into next month’s international break with the new manager in place. A friendly against World Cup qualifiers Egypt has been mooted for November 9, with Zaccheroni expected to choose the second of the UAE's two opponents for that period.