x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Struggle to replace Metsu

Bruno Metsu steps down after the UAE lose both of their opening matches in the final Asian qualifying round for the World Cup.

Mohammed Khalfan Rumaithi, the president of the UAE Football Association, left, and the former national coach Bruno Metsu speak at a press conference on Sept 22 2008.
Mohammed Khalfan Rumaithi, the president of the UAE Football Association, left, and the former national coach Bruno Metsu speak at a press conference on Sept 22 2008.

DUBAI // The UAE's Football Association were last night struggling to find a new manager for the national team after Bruno Metsu's surprise decision to step down following poor results in World Cup qualifying. Jumaa Rabea, who coached the youth team under Metsu, rejected the chance to step up into the top job. The FA's next choice, the assistant coach Dominique Batheney, was also expected to turn down the opportunity. The FA's technical committee were due to meet last night to discuss their options - with the Al Shabab manager Toninho Cerezo, Al Ain boss Winfried Schaefer and Al Ahli's Ivan Hasek all under consideration. Yousuf Abdullah, the secretary general of the FA, said they had offered Rabea the chance to succeed Metsu. "We spoke to Rabea, but he excused himself. He did not want the job because, I think, there is too much pressure," he said. "Our new technical committee will do their best to find a solution to the problem. "We have several choices. The first name on the list is the assistant coach Dominique. "He was the head coach for some time before Metsu took over. "If he is not ready, there are several other choices. "Toninho Cerezo, Winfried Schaefer and Ivan Hasek are the only coaches in the league with experience of UAE football. "They are the only coaches who have worked for more than one season and they know about our players - but we also understand that it will be very difficult for their clubs to release them." Metsu's decision to leave his post came as a surprise, even though defeats to North Korea and Saudi Arabia left the Emirates with little chance of reaching the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. Metsu denied that he has spoken to any club or federation about a coaching role, though FA sources believe he could head to Qatar to take over from their national coach Jorge Fossati. "I am taking a big risk, I can stay here and keep my job," he said. "But I believe in myself. I don't know about my future. Today I don't know - tomorrow is another day, but today I don't know." The launch of the Etisalat Pro League, the first professional league for the Emirates, at the weekend was supposed to herald a bright new future for football in the country. But Abdullah Hassan, the former manager of the national team, said that Metsu had not been impressed by standards of play in the weekend's opening fixtures. "He watched the matches to see if there were any good, new players he could add to the national team," he said. "He says he didn't see anyone. After that, he made his decision and that is it." Abdullah believed that Metsu's decision to leave was linked to the poor performances in the games against North Korea and Saudi Arabia. "Metsu feels that the team have no chance of qualifying for the World Cup," he said.

"Taking the UAE to the 2010 finals was a big challenge. He thinks that chance is gone now and there is no point in continuing." Mohammed Khalfan al Rumaithi, the president of the FA, thanked Metsu for his services - but added it's time to move on. "In the last two and a half years he did his best," he said. "We saw some good moments. The whole of UAE celebrated when we won the Gulf Cup. "This is football - sometimes you are up and sometimes down. But what we do remember is the good friendship we had with him. "We never had any problems - any team can lose in football - but we have now reached a stage where Metsu thinks he cannot continue. He would like to seek another challenge. "Life will also continue for us - it will not come to a standstill. "We will do our best to get our team in top gear once again and rebuild our hopes of qualification. I hope we can make it." The UAE are bottom of Group 1 in the final stage of Asian qualifying for 2010. arizvi@thenational.ae