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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 March 2019

Bert van Marwijk the leading contender to become next UAE manager

Former Netherlands and Saudi Arabia coach negotiating with the FA to take over the national team

Bert van Marwijk was manager of Australia at last summer's World Cup in Russia. AP Photo
Bert van Marwijk was manager of Australia at last summer's World Cup in Russia. AP Photo

Bert van Marwijk leads the list of candidates to become the new manager of the UAE national team.

The Dutchman, who guided the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final and spearheaded Saudi Arabia’s qualification for last summer’s finals in Russia, is one of five coaches the Football Association have identified. Negotiations have already taken place.

The FA are seeking a successor to Alberto Zaccheroni, whose contract concluded following the UAE’s exit, as hosts, at the semi-finals of the Asian Cup in late January. The Italian was in charge for 15 months.

Van Marwijk, 66, had previously been approached by the FA, before they eventually opted for Zaccheroni in October 2017. His work with Saudi Arabia, built upon a strong personality and with a heavy focus on discipline, makes him particularly attractive.

The FA have also placed great emphasis on a manager with a coherent, long-term plan since qualification for the 2022 World Cup represents their primary objective. The UAE have only once previously reached football’s marquee event, in 1990.

Van Marwijk last managed Australia at the World Cup last summer, however the team did not progress beyond the group stage. Since then, he has been acting as advisor to former assistant Mark van Bommel at PSV Eindhoven.

The UAE squad will meet up in Abu Dhabi next week for friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Syria. The matches take place on March 21 and 26, respectively, and will be played at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium and Al Nahyan Stadium. Saleem Abdelrahman, part of Zaccheroni’s staff for the Asian Cup, will remain in temporary charge for those two fixtures irrespective if the deal for a permanent successor has been completed.

Updated: March 15, 2019 04:07 PM

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