The Football Association could have a new UAE national team manager in place within the next 24 hours after Bert van Marwijk was dismissed on Saturday.
The FA confirmed in a brief statement that the Dutchman and staff had been relieved of their duties 14 months into their second stint with the team.
Van Marwijk, 69, was reappointed as UAE head coach in December 2020 - almost exactly one year after his first spell in charge had ended. His contract ran through until the conclusion of 2022 World Cup qualification.
The FA may well announce Van Marwijk’s successor by Sunday, with former Al Wasl and Shabab Al Ahli manager Rodolfo Arruabarrena heavily linked with the role.
The UAE have two matches remaining in the final round of qualification for this year’s World Cup. Both qualifiers – away to Iraq and at home to South Korea - take place at the end of next month.
Although they have missed out on an automatic spot for Qatar, the UAE sit third in Group A and therefore occupy the play-off spot. They are three points ahead of fourth-placed Lebanon, with Iraq one point further back in fifth.
Whoever finishes third will face the corresponding team in Group B – currently Australia – with the winner then going on to contest the intercontinental play-off for a place at the World Cup. The UAE have only once previously qualified for a global finals, in 1990.
In December, the UAE had exited the Fifa Arab Cup at the quarter-final stage, beaten 5-0 by hosts Qatar. Van Marwijk’s position was understood to be in serious jeopardy then, but the FA’s newly appointed national teams and technical affairs committee later decided to retain him.
The next appointment will represent the UAE’s seventh new manager since Mahdi Ali’s five-year tenure ended in 2017.