DUBAI // The UAE Football Association will discover on Wednesday if Reinaldo Rueda accepts their offer to become the new national team manager, after a potential delay in his appointment threatened to scupper the deal.
The Colombian, in charge of Atletico Nacional in his homeland, remains the leading candidate to replace Mahdi Ali, with a two-year contract worth $3.5 million (Dh12.85m) currently on the table.
However, an issue regarding when Rueda, 60, commences the role has arisen, prompting the FA to look at other alternatives, including former Baniyas and Al Wasl manager Gabriel Calderon.
The UAE resume their quest to reach next year’s World Cup on June 13, when they face Thailand in a must-win match in Bangkok.
However, Atletico have a number of important fixtures between now and then, with Rueda intent initially on guiding the Copa Libertadores champions through those. He would therefore not be able to take charge of the Thailand match. His contract with Atletico runs until the end of next year.
The FA have been impressed by Rueda’s record in taking Honduras and Ecuador to the World Cup in 2010 and 2014, respectively. Yet given that the Thailand encounter is less than six weeks away, there is an understandable desire to have Mahdi Ali’s successor in place as soon as possible. Thus, the FA have set a Wednesday deadline for Rueda, who has also managed the Colombia national team, to choose whether to accept the position.
At present, the UAE sit fourth in Group B in the final stage of qualification for next summer’s World Cup, seven points off automatic qualification with three matches remaining. Attempting to make the tournament for only a second time in their history, they could still reach Russia if they finish third in the standings — via the play-offs. Australia are currently in that spot, four points ahead of the UAE.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport