Ex-Portugal coach Paulo Bento and inspirational Peru tactician Ricardo Gareca feature prominently on a three-man shortlist that the UAE Football Association have given the “green light” for negotiations to begin with.
A three-man panel, led by vice-president Abdullah Nasser Al Junaibi, have studied more than 20 candidates since Edgardo Bauza’s shock defection to World Cup 2018 qualifiers Saudi Arabia last month.
This process to identify the person who will lead the nation on home soil at the 2019 Asian Cup is now set to step up a gear. Bento, 48, is unattached following an acrimonious split from Greece’s Olympiacos in March – he previously led Portugal from 2010-14, a semi-final exit at Euro 2012 providing the highlight.
Well-travelled former Argentina forward Gareca, 59, has moved Peru to the verge of making the World Cup for the first time since 1982.
The UAE FA are prepared to bide their time while qualifying for next summer’s tournament concludes in Europe, Africa and South America. This approach could see Morocco’s Herve Renard, 49, emerge as a strong contender.
“The board were briefed on the nominations of the team led by Abdullah Nasser Al Junaibi, who is in charge of negotiating with a new coach to take over the responsibility of training our first team,” a statement by the governing body announced on Saturday.
“This included three coaches from South America and Europe, who will take over the responsibility of training our national team.
The green light for the task force to start the negotiation process has been given.”
Former United States and Germany boss Jurgen Klinsmann is among the names to be ruled out.
Concerns about his laissez-faire approach and demands for an annual wage of €5 million (Dh21.5m) killed any lingering interest from the original process that followed March’s resignation of Mahdi Ali.
Former Japan coaches Javier Aguirre and Alberto Zaccheroni have been eliminated from selection, at this stage.
Bento would be prepared to accept an offer of €2m (Dh8.6m) per year. The ex-Portugal defensive midfielder won the Taca de Portugal and Supertaca Candido de Oliveira twice while in charge of Sporting Lisbon from 2005-09.
Dissension with his squad and the Olympiacos board saw him sacked last spring, despite being seven points clear in the Greek Superleague.
Gareca’s availability could swing on whether Peru successfully reach Russia. They currently sit in the inter-confederation play-off berth ahead of their final group game at home to Colombia Wednesday morning UAE time.