Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 July 2020

Zlatko Dalic set to be ruled out of UAE contention by agreeing Croatia extension

Former Al Ain manager was reported to be in the running for the national team vacancy but is expected to agree new terms with the World Cup finalists

Zlatko Dalic's Croatia contract was to run until after Euro 2020 but after the tournament was postponed until 2021, he is set to extend for another year. Getty Images
Zlatko Dalic's Croatia contract was to run until after Euro 2020 but after the tournament was postponed until 2021, he is set to extend for another year. Getty Images

Zlatko Dalic has ruled himself out of becoming UAE manager by agreeing to extend his contract with Croatia, according to reports in his homeland.

The former Al Ain manager, 53, was said to be among the early favourites to succeed Ivan Jovanovic, who was dismissed last week four months into his six-month contract. The Football Association had told The National on Wednesday that it was yet to contact any potential candidates.

Dalic’s deal with Croatia was initially to run until this summer’s Euro 2020, however, with the competition postponed for 12 months because of the coronavirus crisis, it appears he will now sign an extension through to next year’s tournament.

Reports in Croatia on Thursday said Dalic would meet with Davor Suker, the president of the Croatian Football Federation, in the very near future to sign off on a new contract.

Two years ago, Dalic guided Croatia to their first World Cup final, where they were beaten by France. Croatia qualified for the Euros last November by finishing top of their group.

Dalic's stock remains high in the UAE given what he achieved with Al Ain during a three-year stint from 2014. He won the President’s Cup at the end of his first season, before leading the Garden City club to the Arabian Gulf League title in the following campaign.

In 2016, Al Ain reached a first Asian Champions League final in 11 years, although they were defeated 3-2 on aggregate by South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Dalic departed two months later.

The UAE are in the market for a manager following the decision to dispense with Jovanovic, which came as a relative shock. Appointed in December, the Serbian was given the remit of guiding the UAE through their final four qualifiers in the second round of qualification for the 2022 World Cup.

However, the fixtures were postponed because of the coronavirus, meaning Jovanovic’s contract was terminated before he had taken charge of a match. The rescheduled qualifiers are expected to take place in October and November.

At present, the UAE sit fourth in their group, five points off leaders Vietnam, although they do have a game in hand over all of their rivals. Only the top team are guaranteed to advance to the third phase.

A number of managers have been linked with the vacant position this past week, including former Saudi Arabia manager Juan Antonio Pizzi and Zoran Mamic, Dalic’s successor at Al Ain. Mamic is currently sporting director at Dinamo Zagreb. Sources close to Pizzi confirmed to The National that he would be interested in the job.

Updated: April 17, 2020 08:33 AM

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