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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

UAE target Ricardo Gareca to stay as Peru manager if they qualify for 2018 World Cup

Argentine features prominently on UAE FA shortlist to replace Edgardo Bauza

Ricardo Gareca, centre, could be on the verge of guiding Peru to the 2018 World Cup finals. Juan Mabromata / AFP
Ricardo Gareca, centre, could be on the verge of guiding Peru to the 2018 World Cup finals. Juan Mabromata / AFP

Ricardo Gareca, a lead candidate for the vacant UAE national team job, will remain in charge of Peru should they qualify this week for the World Cup, according to the head of the Peruvian Football Federation.

The 59-year-old Argentine features prominently on the UAE Football Association’s shortlist to replace Edgardo Bauza, who ended his brief tenure last month to take the reins of the Saudi Arabia national team. Appointed in May, Bauza managed the UAE for three competitive matches.

Compatriot Gareca is on the verge of guiding Peru to next summer’s World Cup, with the South Americans fifth in the Conmebol section with one round of fixtures remaining. Fifth place secures a play-off against New Zealand next month, although should Peru defeat Colombia at home early on Wednesday - kick off is at 3.30am UAE time - they would leapfrog their opponents and almost certainly clinch an automatic spot for Russia 2018.

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On Saturday, the president of the Peruvian Football Federation, Edwin Oviedo, insisted Gareca will stay on as manager if he leads the country to a first World Cup since 1982.

"Totally, this is so,” Oviedo told Peruvian radio. “Of course, there is an automatic renewal if Peru qualifies for the World Cup, which is stipulated in the contract.”

However, Oviedo did state that Gareca’s position “would be discussed” if his team do not book a place at the global finals. Gareca has been in charge of Peru since February 2015.

The UAE FA confirmed at the weekend that they had given the go-ahead for its three-man committee, set up last month and headed by vice president Abdullah Naser Al Junaibi, to begin negotiations with prospective candidates.

At present, the list includes three coaches from South America and Europe, with former Portugal national team manager Paulo Bento and Morocco manager Herve Renard thought to be of significant interest.

Bento, 48, has been unemployed since leaving Greek side Olympiakos in March, while Renard, 49, is attempting to guide Morocco to the World Cup. The Frenchman’s side top their group, with a qualification decider away to Ivory Coast to come on November 6.