x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Misfir's men lack time to turn things around for UAE football

The coach and his new staff say: "Our players are not bad. There are just a few issues and we need to solve that."

The Football Fderation introduced their new head coach, Abdullah Misfir, in Dubai yesterday, and the successor to Srecko Katanec assured that there will be no drastic change to the playing squad.
The Football Fderation introduced their new head coach, Abdullah Misfir, in Dubai yesterday, and the successor to Srecko Katanec assured that there will be no drastic change to the playing squad.

Returning from a rather disappointing tour of Australia in 1990, Bishen Singh Bedi, the then India cricket coach and outspoken critic, had suggested dumping the team into the Pacific Ocean.

Many different coaches in history have probably flirted with that thought and shared the angst.

Abdullah Misfir is not one of them.

The new UAE coach, taking over the reins of a team who have performed depressingly in their last two matches, will not be going to the office with a well-honed axe, but with a positive outlook. His job, the Emirati says, will be to mend, without a radical shake-up.

"We have lost two matches, and the players will be under pressure because of those results," Misfir said. "The pressure is on everybody, including us.

"If we change all the players and bring another set, they will be under the same stress because we are in a very bad situation.

"So changing things will not change our situation. Instead, our focus should be on turning things around, and taking this team from this bad situation to a better place.

"I believe we can do it. Our players are not bad. There are just a few issues and we need to solve that."

Misfir and his UAE team have an uphill task ahead of them. They lost their first two matches of the third round of Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

They started with 2-3 loss to Kuwait at home before stumbling to a demoralising 3-1 defeat against Lebanon in Beirut.

Those two results cost Srecko Katanec his job, and as the UAE Football Association hunted for a replacement, they settled on the 48-year-old Misfir, who coached the senior and Olympic national teams in the late 1990s, and many UAE age-group sides. He has also had three stints as assistant with the senior national team.

More recently, Misfir was the technical director at Al Oruba, the first division club, and has good knowledge of players from outside the top league.

The coach, however, has ruled out fast-tracking any promising youngster from those clubs.

"It is not a matter of players, it's a matter of time," he said. "We don't have enough time to try players. If we had time, we could have looked at those players, and we will do it later on, but not right now.

"Even if we could change things around, I don't think we could change more than two or three players. It is very important to stick to players who have played at this level, have this experience and professionalism."

Misfir will be going into the job with his own support staff. His assistants will be Hassan Ibrahim and Khalifa Mubarak, while the goalkeeping coach will be Sameer Shakir.

The administrative team has also been changed with Abdullah Saleh being appointed the team director in place of Ismail Rashid and Ahmed Saeed has replaced Fahad Ali as the manager.

The new team will be busy over the weekend, watching the Etisalat Cup matches before they decide on the list of players to invite for their first training camp, which starts on September 25.

On October 1, the team will then leave for China, where they will play friendly matches and train before leaving for South Korea for the match on October 11.

"We face a big challenge ahead because we don't have enough time to prepare the team," Misfir said.

"But we will try to find solutions to the technical and tactical problems of the team and hopefully solve them.

"We are going to prepare the team as best as we can, but I cannot make any big changes because of the lack of time. It is not a matter of quality of training, but about the time that we have. We have to do everything in a very short period.

"We are going to start analysing the team's performance in the last two matches. I believe there are some weak points, and some strong points in our team.

"It is the same with every team. We are going to analyse this and try to solve the problems, whether they concern an individual or the group.

"We are going to study the level of the player's fitness and try to find solutions for that as well."

arizvi@thenational.ae


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