Jorge Luis Pinto 'passionate' about reaching World Cup with UAE

Colombian, 67, was introduced to media at the Football Association headquarters in Dubai on Wednesday

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Jorge Luis Pinto says he “might be the most passionate coach in the world" about reaching the next World Cup as he sets about guiding the UAE to a second global finals in the country’s history.

The Colombian, 67, was introduced to media at the Football Association headquarters in Dubai on Wednesday having last month accepted to take charge of the national team. He replaces Ivan Jovanovic, who was dismissed in April without having managed a match.

Having formerly managed Colombia, Costa Rica and Honduras at international level, Pinto’s primary objective is to lead the UAE to the World Cup in Qatar in two years’ time.

At present, the national team sit fourth in Group G in the second phase of qualification, five points off leaders Vietnam, although they do have a game in hand. Qualification resumes in October.

Pinto, who has never managed outside South America, has enjoyed notable success in international football, chiefly in guiding Costa Rica to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2014 – the country’s best performance at the tournament.

Speaking on Wednesday about his new role, Pinto said: “I might be the most passionate coach in the world about reaching the next World Cup. And I'm very enthusiastic about working with UAE national team.

"Our goal after leading the team from this difficult stage is to transform the thinking of players to dream of the World Cup before entering the third and final stage. I will talk to my players about how serious they are in qualifying to the World Cup finals.

“There is no greater happiness than your arrival at the World Cup and to represent your country in the championship. I lived these moments and wish to convey them to the players.”

Pinto meets his new players for the first time on Wednesday in Al Ain, where the squad will be based until Monday. The national team then travel to Sarajevo early next month for a three-week training camp.

The UAE's World Cup qualification campaign recommences on October 8, with the home match against Malaysia. They take on Indonesia away five days later, before rounding off Round 2 with home matches against Thailand and Vietnam, on November 12 and 17.

Only the top team are guaranteed to progress, alongside the four best runners-up from the eight groups.

Pinto said he will prioritise working on the team's defence, adding: “We are excited to start our project in the quickest time and be sure of the enthusiasm of the players. We need to have enthusiasm and a fighting spirit, and I'm also confident that the Emirati players are talented.”

Pinto said he has spent the past month assessing the players at his disposal through videos of both national team and Arabian Gulf League matches. He was previously considered for the UAE job, in 2017, before the FA eventually opted for Alberto Zaccheroni.

"I have a great responsibility with UAE football and our goal is to fight to try to qualify for the World Cup,” Pinto said. “I also know many details about UAE football.

“I understand the difficult moment it is going through right now, but I am confident in the capabilities of the players, and I will sit with them and talk about the requirements of the stage and the need to make sacrifices for the team.

“We have come to work and strive for the sake of UAE football. And we are waiting for everyone's support in that mission."