x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 December 2017

UAE target Klinsmann, Zaccheroni, Olaroiu and Aguirre among others as next football manager

UAE's Football Association appoints committee to determine criteria for possible candidates to succeed Bauza.

Jurgen Klinsmann was dismissed as the United States manager. Francisco Leong / AFP
Jurgen Klinsmann was dismissed as the United States manager. Francisco Leong / AFP

The UAE Football Association has appointed a three-man committee to identity the new national team manager, with the search for Edgardo Bauza’s successor to ramp up this week.

The FA is in the hunt for another manager following Bauza’s shock departure last Thursday to take the reins of World Cup-bound Saudi Arabia. The Argentine, appointed only in May, took charge of three qualifiers, but could not turn around the UAE's failing bid to make next summer’s tournament in Russia.

On Tuesday, an emergency meeting was held at the FA headquarters in Dubai to discuss a number of issues, including the move for Bauza’s replacement. It was decided that a committee would be formed to determine the criteria for possible candidates, with Abdulla Naser Al Junaibi, FA vice president and chairman of the Pro League Committee, at its head.

A selection of names had already been considered by the FA, with Colombian Reinaldo Rueda and Argentina’s Ricardo Gareca on their provisional list. However, both managers are no longer an option. Rueda, a prominent candidate before Bauza’s appointment, was last month installed as manager at Brazil’s Flamengo, while Gareca is leading Peru’s attempt to qualify for the World Cup.

The FA has resolved to cast the net wide this time. When seeking a replacement for Mahdi Ali this year, the search centred on South American managers, hence the move for Rueda and the eventual appointment of Bauza.

Now, the FA will look to Europe also, with the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann, the former United States national team manager, and Italian Alberto Zaccheroni, who led Japan to success at the 2011 Asian Cup, possible targets. An emphasis has been placed on candidates with previous international experience.

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Cosmin Olaroiu and Javier Aguirre, two managers who know UAE football well, are being considered. Olaroiu, in charge of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, would be a popular choice among players and supporters, given his considerable success at Al Ain and Al Ahli. During six years in the Emirates, he has won 10 trophies, including the top-flight title four times. His contract with Shabab Al Ahli Dubai runs until next summer.

Olaroiu has some international experience already having managed Saudi Arabia for a brief spell at the 2015 Asian Cup. On Saturday, the Romanian denied he had been approached by the FA, stating instead that he had an offer to manage another national team. That was thought to be his native Romania, although compatriot Cosmin Contra was later announced as manager.

Aguirre, meanwhile, has been out of employment since leaving Al Wahda following their President’s Cup final victory in May. The Mexican, who has previously managed both Mexico and Japan, spent two years in Abu Dhabi, helping Wahda to a third-placed finish in the 2015/16 Arabian Gulf League and to League Cup and President’s Cup success. He was recently linked with Spain’s Alaves.

The FA hopes to make major progress by early next week. After the national team failed to reach the World Cup, focus has shifted to the 2019 Asian Cup, which takes place in the UAE in 16 months' time.