x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Now Gulf Cup will be a priority

Bruno Metsu's successor as the UAE coach will face a Herculean task if he is to lead the country to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Bruno Metsu's successor as the UAE coach will face a Herculean task if he is to lead the country to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. Metsu's resignation on Sunday came after the UAE lost to North Korea 2-1 on Sept 6 and Saudi Arabia by the same scoreline four days later, both games in Abu Dhabi, which left them at the bottom of a Group 2 that also include South Korea and Iran.

The new coach's immediate task is the away match with South Korea on Oct 15 followed by a home clash with Iran on Nov 19 - arguably the toughest two teams in the group. Preparations have already been made for the game against South Korea, with the UAE due to play a friendly in Japan beforehand. They are scheduled to arrive in Osaka, on Oct 7 and move to Nigata two days later for the friendly before heading to Seoul.

The UAE will begin their Gulf Cup defence in Oman on January, followed by qualifying for the 2011 Asian Cup - they are in a three-team Group 3 with Malaysia and Uzbekistan. Getting the team back on track in the World Cup qualifiers would be a huge bonus for the new man in Metsu's shoes, but even retaining the Gulf Cup will be a tough task as the expectations will remain high. With Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain making their presence felt in the World Cup qualifying, and Oman as the host team, the UAE will have a hardf time ahead of them to retain the title they won in Abu Dhabi last January.

When the UAE's Football Association met yesterday they were no closer to naming Metsu's successor as coach, though the Frenchman's departure came as no great surprise. He promised so much after famously guiding them to the Gulf Cup title. Metsu had left Al Ain without fulfilling his contract, after leading them to the inaugural Asian Champions League amd two league titles and a cup before joining the Qatar side club Al Gharafa. After the losses to North Korea and Saudi Arabia, his exit was expected.

@Email:apassela@thenational.ae