Cosmin Olaroiu has denied he has been offered the opportunity to take charge of the UAE national team, although he did say he has a proposal from another international side.
The 48-year-old Shabab Al Ahli Dubai manager is the early favourite for the vacant UAE position following Edgardo Bauza's shock switch to Saudi Arabia last week. The Argentine's departure was confirmed late on Thursday, despite his appointment as Mahdi Ali's successor in May. Bauza had been expected to lead the UAE through to the 2019 Asian Cup on home soil. His contract run until the conclusion of that tournament.
The UAE Football Association has begun their search for a replacement, with Olaroiu thought to feature high on their list of candidates. The Romanian, UAE football's most decorated club manager since moving to the country in 2011, has long been linked with the national team, and was considered when Mahdi Ali resigned in March.
However, when asked on Saturday night if he had been approached by the FA, Olaroiu said: “I don’t know anything about this. If I wasn’t good three months before, how am I good now? I don’t know a lot about the national team. I know a lot about another national team, but not the Emirates.”
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The FA’s interest in Olaroiu is understandable. Through spells with Al Ain and Al Ahli, he has won 10 trophies, including two top-flight titles with each. He has also managed internationally before, taking charge briefly of Saudi Arabia for the 2015 Asian Cup, although that stint ended with a disappointing group-stage exit.
Olaroiu's contract with Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, the club formed in May after Ahli, Al Shabab and Dubai merged, runs until next summer. The figures involved in extracting the former Al Hilal and Al Saad manager from that agreement could prove a real stumbling block for the FA, though, who are scheduled to meet this week to discuss their options.
Asked on Saturday if he would be interested in taking the UAE job should an offer be presented, Olaroiu said: “We can talk about everything in theory. Practically, it doesn’t exist. I told you, I’m not thinking about that in this moment.
“I’m here and I have to do my job for this club in the months that I have until I finish. There exists a national team who has interest, but I don’t know if the club would agree.”
Pressed on the identity of that national team, Olaroiu quipped: “Honolulu”.