Edgardo Bauza has resigned as UAE football manager to take charge of the Saudi Arabian national team just nine days after the latter qualified to play in the 2018 World Cup finals.
Bauza, who replaced Mahdi Ali in May, was at the helm for just four months during which time the UAE came very close to World Cup qualification themselves. During his reign, the UAE played the last three matches of their 'Road to Russia' campaign, drawing 1-1 with Thailand, beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 and losing to Iraq 1-0.
The Argentine will replace Bert van Marwijk, the man who guided the Saudi side to their first finals since 2006, after the Dutchman was unable to agree to a new deal with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF). Some media reports suggested it was because Van Marwijk, 65, said he could not reside in the country permanently, something the federation had requested.
Van Marwijk said he was disappointed at not being able to continue as manager. "It was my big dream to go to the World Cup," he said in a news release on Friday. "This was the reason why I started this job in 2015. When we started in 2015 nobody wanted to be part of the national team."
The Dutchman also wished "the people of Saudi Arabia the best".
"I thank them for the support," he added. "I hope for the players they will have success in the World Cup. I feel we have done a great job together."
Adel Ezzat, the SAFF chairman, thanked the UAE Football Association for agreeing to part with Bauza, who will become the third Argentine to take charge of Saudi Arabia at a World Cup finals. He will follow in the footsteps of Jorge Solari, at USA 1994, and Gabriel Calderon, at Germany 2006.