UAE FA set to meet and submit list of finalists for new UAE national team manager

The UAE Football Association on Wednesday moved a step closer to appointing a new national team manager.

Abdelaziz Sanqour of the UAE goes for possession during his side's World Cup qualifier against Australia at Allianz Stadium on March 28, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. Mark Kolbe / Getty Images
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The Football Association on Wednesday moved a step closer to appointing a national team manager.

A meeting to discuss Mahdi Ali’s successor was scheduled for 3pm at the FA’s headquarters in Dubai, where a final list of candidates will be put forward to the board. It is hoped they will then decide on their No 1 target, meaning negotiations with the chosen manager can accelerate. However, should no agreement be made, the board will reassess its options.

At present, the leading candidates are understood to be Colombian Reinaldo Rueda, the former Colombia, Honduras and Ecuador manager in charge of Atletico Nacional in his homeland, and Alberto Zaccheroni, the Italian who led Japan to success at the 2011 Asian Cup. Argentines Ricardo Gareca, the Peru manager, and Edgardo Bauza, who was dismissed last week as Argentina manager, are also thought to be in the running.

The FA realises the need to expedite the process given the UAE take on Thailand in a make-or-break World Cup qualifier on June 15. Defeats to Japan and Australia last month dealt a huge blow to the country’s hopes of making what would be only a second global finals, with the 2-0 loss in Sydney prompting Mahdi Ali’s resignation. The Emirati had held the position since August 2012.

The UAE sit fourth in Group B, seven points off the automatic qualification spots with only three matches remaining. The most likely route to Russia is therefore a third-place finish, which seals a place in a series of play-offs to make the World Cup. Australia, the reigning Asian champions, occupy that spot, four points ahead of the UAE.

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