The UAE have parted ways with manager Jorge Luis Pinto just five months after his appointment and before the resumption of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup.
Pinto, a 67-year-old Colombian who led Costa Rica to the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, was the UAE's fourth manager since January 2019. He was hired in June on a contract until 2022.
"After long meetings with coach Pinto, we agreed that it was difficult to continue our relationship and we decided to terminate the contract," said the head of the Emirates national teams committee, Youssef Hussein said at a press conference.
"The replacement coach will be announced soon," adding that the new man will be chosen from three people who have worked in the Arabian Gulf League.
"It was difficult to carry out my mission with the national team for several reasons, including a difference of views," said Pinto.
"I faced difficult circumstances during the task of assuming responsibility for coaching the Whites, the most important of which was the long suspension of sports activity due to the Corona pandemic, the position of the national team in its group and the short time remaining to prepare for the joint qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup finals and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup finals in good form.
"I had big dreams of reaching the World Cup with the Emirates, and I hope it will happen with another coach.
"I spoke with officials in the Football Association and they understood my position, and it was agreed between us to terminate the contract amicably.
"I wish success to the UAE national team, which has a great place in my heart, and I had the honour to train its first national team.
Pinto succeeded the Serbian Ivan Jovanovic, who was in the job from December 2019 to April 2020, before being dismissed without having played any matches.
Alberto Zaccheroni, who led AC Milan to a Serie A title in 1999 and won the Asian Cup with Japan, quit in January 2019 after leading UAE to the semi-finals of the Asian Cup.
UAE 1 Bahrain 3: Pinto's last stand
The Italian was followed by former Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk who lasted from March 2019 until that December when he was fired following a 4-2 loss to Qatar in the Arabian Gulf Cup.
On his unveiling as manager in June, Pinto made it abundantly clear what his objective was.
“I might be the most passionate coach in the world about reaching the next World Cup," he said. "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.”
The UAE currently sit fourth in Group C of the second round of qualifying, with only the group winners guaranteed passage into the third round alongside the four best runners-up. The Whites are five points behind leaders Vietnam, although they do hold a game in hand.
However, they have been boosted by the naturalisation of Caio, Fabio De Lima, and Sebastian Tagliabue – three of the AGL's best players.