The four-man shortlist for the UAE national team job was revealed this week.
Following Mahdi Ali’s resignation after last month’s 2-0 defeat in Australia that left the team’s hopes of a World Cup 2018 berth in tatters, replacements are being lined up.
The four names reported are Reinaldo Rueda, Edgardo Bauza, Jurgen Klinsmann and Ricardo Gareca.
Here, we look at what each of the four candidates could have to offer.
Claim To Fame
Recently ranked among the top 10 coaches in the world, he’s enjoying a successful spell at Colombian side Atletico Nacional and is popular among fans.
Last season at Colombian side Atletico Nacional, he won the Superliga Colombia, Copa Libertadores and Copa Colombia.
Isn’t as high-profile an appointment as others on this list but has pedigree both in club football and on the international stage with Colombia, Honduras and Ecuador.
Claim To Fame
The 59-year-old lasted less than one year in the Argentina hotseat following his sacking this week – and his job with the White and Sky Blue was easily his biggest yet. Bauza is an experienced boss, especially in his native Argentina, but a poor World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign and ultimately his dismissal will be what most people remember him for most.
He is twice a winner of the famed South American club competition, the Copa Libertadores (with Recopa Sudamericana in 2010 and San Lorenzo in 2014).
Bauza’s name is obviously in the headlines and he might well be keen for an immediate return to football.
However, his lack of experience away from Argentina could hinder him when trying to make the jump to manage abroad.
Claim To Fame
The iconic Tottenham forward enjoyed a stellar playing career in European football and also turned out for the likes of Inter Milan, Monaco and Bayern Munich.
His managerial career has been good, but not great.
After guiding Germany to third place at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he lasted less than a season in charge of Bayern between 2008-09 and he has enjoyed mixed success as boss of the United States – of whom he was dismissed last November.
He won the CONCACAF Gold Cup back in 2013 with the States and was voted coach of the year soon after – an award he has won twice.
Six months or so outside of football should have whetted his appetite for a return but the 52-year-old may feel he needs an extended break from the game.
The current Peru boss is the only man in the top four who is still in work.
Gareca’s side are struggling somewhat in the South American World Cup 2018 qualifying table, lanquishing in seventh position – but it looks unlikely he’d leave his current post yet.
Claim To Fame
An experienced name to throw into the hat but this isn’t a go-er.
FIFA have every intention of using December’s return of the Club World Cup to the UAE as another test bed for the Video Assistant Referees system, according to the organisation’s Chief Competitions & Events Officer Colin Smith.
The replays were utilised during last year’s edition, and were used for the first time when a penalty was awarded in the first half of the semi-final between Atletico Nacional and Kashima Antlers. They have since gone on to be successfully used in Spain’s 2-0 friendly win in France last month, when the hosts were twice correctly foiled by it.
In the next two Decembers, the tournament which brings together the champions of Europe, Asia,
South America, Africa, The Americas, Oceania and the local competition – Arabian Gulf League in this
case – will head back to the Emirates after a seven-year break.
It is now looking increasingly likely that VAR will help decide this winter’s contests at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City and Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.
“We were testing the VAR at the Club World Cup last year and in the meanwhile, we are evaluating
the testing process,” said ex-Pro League Committee chief executive Smith, who was speaking yesterday
at the official unveiling of this year’s emblem and match schedule in the capital.
“Certainly the tests have gone well and it is very much possible that it will be used here at the Club World Cup.”
The upcoming event will run from December 6-16, with the opening game set to see the 2016/17 AGL champions – which looks almost certainly to be Al Jazira – battle the winners of the 2017 OFC Champions League at Al Ain’s resplendent 22,717-capacity Hazza.
The final is to be played at a renovated ZSC, which can currently hold 43,000 fans. In the previous editions in the Emirates, Spanish giants Barcelona beat Argentina’s Estudiantes 2-1 after extra time during 2009. A year later, Italy’s Internazionale thrashed Democratic Republic of Congo’s TP Mazembe 3-0.
Inspections were carried out by the world governing body last month to adjudge the readiness of the stadiums, training pitches and other facilities related to the next competition.
This centred on everything from camera positions to the media zone, as well as VIP areas and security
perimeters. For Major General Mohamed Khalfan Al Romaithi, chairman of the Local Organising Committee
for the Club World Cup UAE 2017, the readiness of the country showed a continued commitment to put on premier sporting events despite reports of an economic downturn in the region.
He said: “People are talking about an economic crisis because of the lower oil price, but this is the answer from the UAE. We are saying we are committed to all agreements we have signed and everything is going on perfectly.
“This is how we can gain the trust of FIFA when we request in future to hosts more events.”
The previous outings in the UAE saw several games played at well-below capacity. UAE Football Association president Marwan bin Ghalita wanted the drive to attract supporters to both begin immediately and be wide-ranging.
He said: “Every time I talk about any tournament, I would like to see more engagement from the citizens of
the UAE, more attendance. I need them to enjoy the game, more and more.
“We need to attract and engage a lot of citizens and different nationalities. We have more than 200 nationalities in the UAE, we need to engage a lot of them. They love football and the challenge is to attract them all here. This will be a startup for the 2019 Asian Cup, in the UAE.”
Cosmin Olaroiu has rejected initial overtures to become the UAE’s next coach as a summer switch back to Europe is priority if he leaves Al Ahli, meaning the Romanian does not feature on a final shortlist from which a candidate is hoped to be hired within the next 10 days.
This viewpoint ensured the 47-year-old isn’t in a group of potential successors to Mahdi Ali which includes the likes of recently-dismissed Argentina boss Edgardo Bauza, ex-United States and Germany supremo Jurgen Klinsmann, Peru tactician Ricardo Gareca plus Colombian Reinaldo Rueda, who commanded Honduras at World Cup 2010 and Ecuador at World Cup 2014.
From this quartet, demands for a contract worth €3.5 million (Dh13.6m) a year from legendary ex-striker Klinsmann, 52, have initially been deemed too expensive. Rueda, 59, led Atletico Nacional to the 2016 Copa Libertadores and is prepared to accept €2.5m (Dh9.7m) per annum, a figure well within the UAE Football Association’s budgetary confines.
Olaroiu has earned a stellar reputation in the Middle East during the previous decade thanks to 14 trophies wins at Qatar’s Al Sadd, Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal plus the Emirates duo of Al Ain and Ahli. This standing saw contact recently made to gauge interest in replacing Ali following his resignation after March 28’s 2-0 defeat in Australia left hopes of making World Cup 2018 in tatters.
But the man who led Saudi on a temporary basis to a group-stage exit at the 2015 Asian Cup ideally wants a return to his own continent if time is called on a triumphant four-year spell at Rashid Stadium.
Only intervention from the highest levels of Emirati society could potentially change his mind about the Whites post.
Olaroiu has been linked before with the Romania job. His contract at the Red Knights expires next year.
The newly-recalibrated UAE FA’s technical committee have been entrusted with selecting a successor to Ali.
The governing body’s president Marwan bin Ghalita was convinced they will choose the right candidate to breathe fresh life into the Road to Russia and lead the nation on home soil at the 2019 Asian Cup.
He said: “For sure, it will be a national team coach. For sure, it will be a coach with achievements.
“They [technical committee] have a shortlist and they are reviewing all the CVs. So far they have four or five.
“About a week to 10 days, it will be finished.”
The UAE are currently fourth in Group B during the third-and-final qualifying round, with only the top three offering progression. They next visit Thailand on June 13.