New UAE manager Alberto Zaccheroni says the national team will achieve its target of success at the 2019 Asian Cup only through hard work and team spirit.
The Italian, 64, was introduced to the media on Tuesday at the Football Association’s headquarters in Dubai after signing a 16-month contract, which runs to the conclusion of the continental showpiece. He succeeds Argentine Edgardo Bauza, who concluded his five-month tenure last month to take the reins of Saudi Arabia.
Zaccheroni has extensive experience in Italian club football having led AC Milan to the 1998/99 Serie A title, but is is best known in this region for his four-year spell with Japan from 2010. During that time, he won the 2011 Asian Cup crown.
The UAE hope therefore that he can translate that success to the 2019 event, which takes place in the Emirates from January 5-February 1.
“There is a great challenge that motivates me very much: the 2019 Asian Cup challenge,” said Zaccheroni, sitting alongside FA president Marwan bin Ghalita. “I'm very excited and proud to be a part of this project.
“I will use all my experience over the years in Italy and abroad to achieve the best results for the UAE. I'm not a person who likes to talk a lot, but I prefer to work on the pitch and with the players and the team as a whole.
“I began coaching at the lower levels and no one has given me anything for free. I have worked for everything I achieved in Italy and I will do the same here, to achieve everything for the Emirates, the players, the media and the public."
Zaccheroni has been out of work since May last year, when he was dismissed as manager of Beijing Guoan, the Chinese Super League side, five months into his contract. He lasted only nine matches.
At the UAE, Zaccheroni takes charge of a side low on morale following last month’s failed bid to make next summer’s World Cup. The UAE, who have only once previously qualified for a global finals, finished fourth in their group behind Japan, Saudi Arabia and Australia.
“I have to concentrate on the future, not what happened in the past,” Zaccheroni said. “As the president said, it’s a very big and important challenge for everybody so we need to collaborate with everyone to achieve this goal.
“Clearly it’s the responsibility of coach and as players to do our best so that people can change their feelings about the disappointment of not qualifying. Self-belief comes from results and to achieve positive results we must build a good team. If we play collectively and all players embrace that, then we are sure we will get the results we want.”
Zaccheroni said he was attracted to the role because of the potential within the UAE side. He has faced the national team before having managed Japan against Mahdi Ali's men at the 2012 Kirin Cup. Back then, Japan triumphed 1-0.
“When I was in Japan most people spoke very highly of the UAE,” said Zaccheroni, whose first match in charge is expected to be a friendly against Egypt next month. “I do not know the players personally, but I will wait for the moment when we meet. Only then can I start to plan to achieve our goal.
“I’m not the type of coach who has an agent. I never go looking for anything special for myself. I like to go where they want me, and luckily the UAE FA called me and I accepted immediately. I didn’t take long to agree.”