DUBAI // Argentine Edgardo Bauza will be officially presented on Thursday night as the UAE’s new national team manager.
The former Argentina manager, who was dismissed last month after only eight months in charge, is understood to have accepted a contract that runs until the conclusion of the 2019 Asian Cup, which takes place in the Emirates from January 5 to February 1.
Bauza, 59, arrived in Dubai on Tuesday and met with members of the UAE Football Association the following day to conclude negotiations. He replaces in the role Mahdi Ali, who resigned on March 28, immediately after the crucial World Cup qualifying defeat to Australia in Sydney. The Emirati had held the position since August 2012.
The FA had always considered Bauza a primary target, but the former defender rejected an initial offer last month. However, once complications arose regarding a move for Colombian Reinaldo Rueda, the FA returned to Bauza. He will be presented as the national team manager at a press conference at the FA’s headquarters in Al Khawaneej.
In his new role, Bauza is tasked with first helping the UAE reach next summer’s World Cup – the team currently sit fourth in Group B in the final stage of qualification – with the Gulf Cup later this year and the 2019 Asian Cup representing longer-term objectives. His first match in charge will be next month’s must-win World Cup qualifier in Thailand on June 13.
Bauza will seek to rebound from a chastening eight months with Argentina from August last year. During that time, he guided the 2014 World Cup finalists to only three victories in eight matches, a run that pulled the side to fifth in the Conmebol section for Russia 2018 – one spot outside automatic qualification.
Bauza has experienced significant success at club level, though, having led Ecuador’s LDU Quito and Argentina’s San Lorenzo to win the Copa Libertadores, the highest club prize in South American football, in 2008 and 2014. He has some first-hand knowledge of Gulf football, too, after a brief stint spent at Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in 2009.
Bauza has less than five weeks to get the UAE ready for that crucial qualifier against Thailand in Bangkok. At present, the national team lie seven points off the automatic qualification spots, with three matches remaining. The UAE also sit four points back from Australia in third, the position that guarantees entry into a series of play-offs to make the World Cup.
After bottom-placed Thailand, the UAE host Saudi Arabia, the group’s joint-leaders, in Abu Dhabi on August 31 before potentially concluding their campaign on September 5, against Iraq in Tehran.
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