x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UAE FA are ready to give Sacchi the nod

Arrigo Sacchi, the former coach of Italy and AC Milan, is in talks with the UAE Football Association to take over as the manager.

Arrigo Sacchi, left, pictured with another former Italy manager Giovanni Trapattoni.
Arrigo Sacchi, left, pictured with another former Italy manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

ABU DHABI // Arrigo Sacchi, the former coach of the Italian national team and AC Milan, is in talks with the UAE Football Association to take over as the manager of the national team from Dominique Batheney. The former director of football at Spanish giants Real Madrid, 62, was present at Al Nasr club on Wednesday night as Batheney trained with the national squad for the must-win 2010 World Cup qualifier against Iran next week.

According to sources, Sacchi, who guided Italy to the 1994 World Cup finals, has met with FA officials to discuss the financial aspects of a contract and his vision for UAE football. A clearer picture is likely to emerge in the next few days. Batheney took over as the coach of the UAE in September after Bruno Metsu stepped down following losses at home to North Korea and Saudi Arabia in the final round of Asian qualifying for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

The Frenchman has a one-year contract, but his tenure is unlikely to last beyond the final qualifying game on June 10 next year in Iran. In Batheney's first match at the helm, the UAE were beaten 4-1 in Seoul by South Korea and a loss to Iran at Al Nasr coming Wednesday will be the end of their dream of qualifying for South Africa. "This game is our last chance and the players fully understand it," said Batheney.

"We know the importance of the game and the players are working hard to get the result we need. It is going to be a tough game. Iran have lots of good players with experience. They are also on a high as they have not lost a game for some time now. "But we are playing at home and we will have the supporters backing us. We have to make sure we don't let them settle into their rhythm on the pitch." As the seniors have been struggling, the UAE juniors have qualified for the Under 17 and Youth World Cups. The U19 side is a game away from winning the Asian title for the first time in UAE history.

They meet Uzbekistan in the final tonight and Saeed Abdul Gaffar, the FA's vice-president, Hussain hopes their success will be an inspiration for a win against Iran. "I am confident the qualification of the youth and junior teams for the World Cups will have a positive impact on the senior side," he said. "It will increase their resolve to beat Iran and revive our hopes of going to South Africa. "We are playing at home and our fans will be fully behind us, and the team has to make sure they don't disappoint them.

"Of course, Iran are a good side, but on the field it's 11 players against 11. We need be strong and work hard for a win. It is our last chance." Four players missed training due to injuries and illness - captain Abdulraheem Jumaa, Walid Abbas, Mohammed Qassim and Ali Abbas. arizvi@thenational.ae