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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Zaccheroni hired as UAE manager because of his Asian football record

UAEFA's vice-chairman Abdullah Naser Al Junaibi explains rationale behind appointment of former Japan and Milan coach

Alberto Zaccheroni, right, seen with UAEFA president Marwan bin Ghalaita, had led Japan to the Asian Cup title in 2011. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Alberto Zaccheroni, right, seen with UAEFA president Marwan bin Ghalaita, had led Japan to the Asian Cup title in 2011. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The UAE Football Association chose Alberto Zaccheroni as manager of the national team because of his record in Asian football and his “charisma”, according to vice-chairman Abdullah Naser Al Junaibi.

The Italian was on Monday installed as Edgardo Bauza’s replacement, signing a 16-month contract through to the 2019 Asian Cup. The continent’s showpiece event, it will be staged in the Emirates for only the second time.

Zaccheroni, 64, has a strong affiliation with the tournament having guided Japan to the title in 2011. The FA has targeted securing a first continental crown when the event kicks off on January 5, 2019, as the national team seek to rebound from last month’s failure to qualify for the World Cup next summer.

Al Junaibi headed the three-man committee charged with identifying Bauza’s successor and says he is confident the FA has appointed the right man. Prior to his four years with Japan from 2010, Zaccheroni managed a number of Italy’s most prominent clubs, a time that included winning the 1998/99 Scudetto with AC Milan.

“We went to several names, but we chose Zaccheroni because he coached the Japanese national team and he won the same competition,” Al Junaibi said. “So he is aware of all the Asian teams. That will make it very fast and give a short time for us to understand who we are playing against and to know what we need for the next period.

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“Plus the CV that he has. He has the charisma, the technical vision, all of these things. So we did our homework and decided to sign with him. He accepted the challenge. He said, ‘I’m coming here not only to relax, I’m coming here to accept this challenge’.

“And I was surprised he knows the UAE national team since he played against us before. He knows the style of our players and how they work. That’s the main thing besides the personality and the charisma he has.”

Zaccheroni’s first match is expected to be a friendly against World Cup entrants Egypt on November 8 or 9. Al Junaibi rejected concerns that Zaccheroni has not managed since May last year, when he was dismissed by Chinese club Beijing Guoan after nine matches in charge.

“If anybody’s doing any kind of scouting for the big names, you will find it’s their decision to relax a little bit after having that long period of coaching,” he said. “Zaccheroni was working as a technical analyser and was travelling with the Italian national team during the past period. It’s no [concern] at all. It encourages us that he’s had his relaxing time and now it’s to come back for business.”

Asked what would constitute success with Zaccheroni at the Asian Cup, Al Junaibi said: “Definitely our goal will be to achieve the championship. We have that faith in our head coach and the faith in our players as well.”