x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UAE ready to name Katanec

The UAE Football Association are all set to unveil the Whites' new national coach, and that man could well be Srecko Katanec.

Katanec is the UAE FA's top candidate.
Katanec is the UAE FA's top candidate.

The UAE Football Association (UAE FA) are all set to unveil the Whites' new national coach, and that man could well be Srecko Katanec. Dominique Bathenay will step down at the end of UAE's final World Cup qualifying match against Iran in Tehran this evening, possibly making way for Katanec - a former manager of Slovenia and Macedonia.

Yousef Abdulla, the UAE FA's general secretary, however, went no further than to say that: "The UAE FA has shortlisted a few names and a new coach will be announced after the match with Iran." But word is out that Katanec would be released by the Football Federation of Macedonia who have agreed to annul his contract that is due to expire in October. Katanec, who played for Sampdoria in Italy's Serie A, was the manager of Slovenia that made it to the finals of Euro 2000 and World Cup 2002.

With a population of just two million, Slovenia shocked pundits when they reached the World Cup finals after eliminating Romania in the European qualifying groups. However, the 2002 appearance was marred by arguments with star player Zlatko Zahovic, who was sent home after the first match agains Spain. Katanec resigned from the role immediately afer the tournament Katanec was appointed manager of Macedonia in 2006 after a short and unsuccessful stint as Olympiakos manager.

He guided Macedonia to a 1-0 win over Scotland in a World Cup qualifier before calling it quits in April after a squabble with the Lazio player Goran Pandev. As for Bathenay, the Frenchman took charge of the UAE after compatriot Bruno Metsu resigned last September to take up the job of leading Qatar in the World Cup qualifiers. Bathenay had a disappointing run with the team, earning just one point from the seven World Cup qualifying matches, and - as the defending champions of the Gulf Cup - they failed to progress beyond the group stage in the biennial tournament in Oman.

The UAE's next international fixture is in January when they host Malaysia in the return leg of the 2011 Asian Cup qualifiers. apassela@thenational.ae