UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni was 'very brave' to ditch faltering tactics, says Ali Khaseif

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(Twitter/@uaefa_ae).

UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni is “very brave” for taking the pragmatic decision to ditch the faltering Asian Cup hosts’ usual tactics for Tuesday’s pressure-relieving 3-0 friendly win against Laos, according to goalkeeper Ali Khaseif.

The Whites supremo’s position came under intense scrutiny after Thursday’s demoralising 2-0 reversal to undercooked Trinidad and Tobago made it five matches without victory.

A switch away from his trademark 3-4-1-2 formation to the Arabian Gulf League’s ubiquitous 4-2-3-1 resulted in a double from Al Jazira hot shot Ali Mabkhout and thunderbolt from 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman.

“There is no team in the Arabian Gulf League playing three at the back,” said Pride of Abu Dhabi skipper Khaseif, who was restored to the international XI. “We tried to accommodate the plan, but couldn’t apply it.

“We do not want to put the blame on the coach or the players, as we are all in one boat.

“Everyone saw how Zaccheroni changed the plan after the Trinidad game and everyone saw how that reflected in today’s game. It is not a shame that the trainer is changing things.

“I think it’s very brave and it is rare to find a coach who can give up his plan and change it.”

Preparations for January’s continental competition will continue with further friendlies against Honduras on October 11 and Venezuela on October 16. The UAE will again be based in Barcelona.

Zaccheroni revealed this step-up in class has been designed to gently move his squad into peak condition.

He said: “We deliberately chose weak teams because the main goal at the beginning of the camp is to build up the identity of the team and the way of the game. We chose humble opponents to apply the required players.

“Our performance [against Laos] was distinctive, the lines converged and we applied high pressure, I am satisfied. We created many opportunities and didn’t convert them, but we will work on that for coming matches.”

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Former Man United and Real Madrid assistant Rui Faria could be UAE candidate

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Former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Internazionale assistant Rui Faria’s first steps into senior management could be taken with the UAE after he emerged as a potential candidate to replace Alberto Zaccheroni if preparations for the 2019 Asian Cup remain troubled.

Faria, 43, worked alongside manager Jose Mourinho for the past 17 years before he decided to “move on” at the end of last season. The Portuguese cited a desire to spend more time with his family, before “pursuing any new challenges”.

This stance could lead the respected coach – who lifted 25 trophies alongside ‘The Special One’ – to Al Khawaneej. Summer links to the No1 roles at Benfica and Sporting Lisbon came to nought.

The UAE Football Association issued a public of vote of confidence about Zaccheroni after last week’s alarming 2-0 friendly defeat to Trinidad and Tobago. But with less than four months to go until they host the continental competition, panic has set in about the build-up.

Legendary former Al Jazira tactician Henk ten Cate is chief among potential suitors for the role. Al Ain’s double-winner Zoran Mamic had to issue a denial on Saturday about links to Zaccheroni’s position.

Faria does not boast any managerial experience. He has, however, worked successfully at many of Europe’s biggest clubs and helped guide many of the sport’s biggest names.

This pedigree could appeal to the UAE FA if Zaccheroni is removed before the Asian Cup opener on January 5 against Bahrain at Zayed Sports City.

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Naturalization of Al Wahda star Sebastian Taglibue would herald new era for the UAE

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(PLC).

A rumoured ground-breaking decision to imminently allow prolific Argentine striker Sebastian Tagliabue to represent the UAE at 2019’s Asian Cup could herald a new era of naturalization as “more will come”, says Al Wahda chairman Ahmed Al Rumaithy.

Al Khaleej newspaper reported on Monday that the Arabian Gulf League’s record foreign goal scorer – with 111 strikes in 113 matches for the Clarets – could be given his Emirati papers before January 5’s continental kick-off against Bahrain on January 5. The uncapped 33-year-old became eligible this summer under FIFA rules as he has been a constant resident since he was purchased from Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab Riyadh during June 2013.

“Concerning Tigali [his nickname]; First of all, the UAE nationality it is an honour for anybody who holds it,” tweeted Al Rumaithy on Tuesday.

“Second of all, he is not the first player and he is not the last. More will come.

“Third of all, Al Wahda have a lot of support from the national team and there is no benefit for just adding a substitute player – we will not compromise on this. We have kept the player for more than five years and that makes it easy.”

Of Alberto Zaccheroni’s squad, 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman was born and raised in Saudi Arabia as a member of the Yemeni diaspora. He received his UAE documents as a teenager prior to 2006’s switch to Al Ain’s academy.

Veteran centre-back Ismail Ahmed was born in Morocco, but was naturalized as an Emirati citizen. He’s been a key figure since his 2012 debut.

Of the current crop of foreign stars in the AGL, leading Brazil-born Al Wasl forwards Caio Canedo and Fabio De Lima are one year away from reaching the five-year threshold.

Midfielder Ibrahim Diaky was granted UAE citizenship in 2006. But he had already played one World Cup qualifier for Ivory Coast in 2001 and was ineligible for his adopted nation.

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