UAE manager Arruabarrena expects to remain in charge despite Arabian Gulf Cup exit

National side picked up just one point from three matches

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Rodolfo Arruabarrena said he expects to remain as UAE manager despite his side’s exit from the Arabian Gulf Cup at the group stage.

The national team, who entered the tournament in Iraq with designs of winning a third regional crown, drew 1-1 with Qatar on Friday night to finish bottom of Group B.

Champions in 2007 and 2013, the UAE began the Gulf Cup with successive defeats, meaning they took a solitary point from three matches in Basra.

Speaking immediately following the disappointment at Al Minaa Olympic Stadium, Arruabarrena said: “We didn't show up at the level we hoped for, and we were not lucky in the tournament.

“I have a continuous contract with the Football Association, and I have spared no effort in developing the national team and highlighting talents in the team. I have my targets and missions to accomplish, and the Football Association knows about these.”

Appointed in February, Arruabarrena has overseen a period of transition, with a number of younger players brought into the set-up. Again on Friday, he defended his decision not to select in the squad Ali Mabkhout, reiterating that he omitted the UAE’s all-time leading goalscorer for “technical and tactical reasons”.

Argentine Arruabarrena, who accepted responsibility for the UAE’s poor campaign, signed a contract initially through until the 2023 Arabian Gulf Cup. That tournament, originally scheduled for China this summer, has been moved to Qatar next January.

On Friday night, the UAE also needed Bahrain to defeat Kuwait to stand any chance of advancing to the semi-finals, although that match also finished 1-1. Against Qatar, the UAE took a deserved lead 14 minutes from time only for their rivals to equalise with two minutes remaining.

“Qualifying for the semi-finals was not in our hands because it was linked to the outcome of another match, and we were the closest to winning,” Arruabarrena said.

“We entered the match with the desire and ambition to win. In general, our level was not good in the tournament This is an appropriate moment to send messages to the fans that we were not good during the tournament and we aspired to appear at a better level.

“We need only to work to develop talents in the national team.”

Updated: January 14, 2023, 11:18 AM