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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Zoran Mamic distances himself from reports he is set to replace Alberto Zaccheroni as UAE manager

A 2-0 friendly defeat to Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday piles pressure on Italian with Asian Cup less than four months away

Al Ain manager Zoran Mamic says he is 'flattered' to be linked with the UAE national team job, but that he is committed to Al Ain. Antonie Robertson / The National
Al Ain manager Zoran Mamic says he is 'flattered' to be linked with the UAE national team job, but that he is committed to Al Ain. Antonie Robertson / The National

Al Ain manager Zoran Mamic has distanced himself from reports he could replace Alberto Zaccheroni in the UAE national team dugout, with the Football Association moving on Saturday to underline their support for the Italian.

Pressure is mounting on Zaccheroni, 65, following Thursday’s 2-0 friendly defeat to Trinidad and Tobago in Spain, a result that stretched the UAE’s winless run to five matches. Defeat means the former AC Milan and Juventus manager's side have now found the net three times in 11 matches since his appointment last October.

Zaccheroni’s predicament is accentuated given the Asian Cup, which takes place for the second time in Emirates, is less than four months away. Speculation over the weekend linked Henk ten Cate, the former Al Jazira manager, and Mamic with the role, although the latter released a statement on social media to play down the rumours. Last season, Mamic guided Al Ain to an historic Arabian Gulf League and President’s Cup double.

“I am extremely flattered and honoured that my name is mentioned in connection to the UAE head coach,” Mamic tweeted. “But [the] national team has a coach - Mr Zaccheroni is a great coach with an amazing career and as Al Ain coach I am totally focused on our next games. Al Ain will continue to support the national team as always.”

Not long before, the FA released a statement on Twitter, saying: “The UAE Football Association denies what is being circulated in the media and social networking sites about communicating with any coach to take over the national team for the Asian Cup. We appeal to everyone to stand behind the Whites and not to disturb preparations for the championship.”

The UAE concluded their camp in Spain with a friendly against Laos on Tuesday. Zaccheroni’s contract runs until the completion of the Asian Cup, which finishes on February 1.

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Zaccheroni pleased with UAE progress after first cup training camp

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