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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

UAE to confirm former AC Milan manager Zaccheroni as Bauza's successor

Italian, who also coached Japan to Asian Cup title in 2011, offered 15-month deal by FA

Shuji Kajiyama / AP Photo
Shuji Kajiyama / AP Photo

Alberto Zaccheroni is expected to be confirmed on Monday as the new UAE national team manager.

The Italian, who led Japan to the 2011 Asian Cup crown, arrived in Dubai late on Saturday and met with the Football Association on Sunday to finalise the conditions of his contract. He has been offered a 15-month deal, taking Zaccheroni through to the conclusion of the 2019 Asian Cup, which takes place in the Emirates.

He will succeed Edgardo Bauza, who left last month to head up Saudi Arabia's 2018 World Cup campaign.

Zaccheroni, 64, was deemed the right man for the role specifically because of his success and experience in Asian football. He was appointed as Japan manager 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. The former AC Milan manager was most recently installed at Beijing Guoan in the Chinese Super League, but lasted only five months last year. He has not since been employed.

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

The FA was 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 with World Cup qualifiers Egypt has been mooted, although Zaccheroni is expected to choose the second of their two opponents for that period.

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Having met with the FA on Sunday, Zaccheroni impressed with his enthusiasm for the role and his hunger in replicating his previous international success with the UAE. Last month, FA president Marwan bin Ghalita said the UAE were aiming to reach the Asian Cup final.

Despite leaving Beijing last year, Zaccheroni has kept a close eye on Asian football and knows well the UAE side already, which was another key factor in his candidacy. When considering Zaccheroni, the FA consulted a number of prominent Italian figures within football, including former England manager Fabio Capello.

With the contract agreed, Zaccheroni could be introduced to the media within the next 24 hours.

Last month, the national team failed to qualify for next summer's World Cup in Russia, finishing fourth in their group behind Japan, Saudi Arabia and Australia. The UAE have only once before appeared at a global finals, in 1990.

Updated: October 15, 2017 11:10 PM

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