Former AC Milan and Juventus boss Alberto Zaccheroni signs UAE deal

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A new adventure: Alberto Zaccheroni with Japan at World Cup 2014 (Getty).

Former AC Milan, Lazio, Juventus and Japan boss Alberto Zaccheroni was officially announced on Monday as the person who will lead the UAE on home soil at January 2019’s Asian Cup.

Zaccheroni, 64, will be unveiled to media this afternoon after he inked a 16-month deal – with an option to renew – worth approximately $2.5 million to replace Edgardo Bauza. The Argentine shockingly defected to World Cup 2018 qualifiers Saudi Arabia in September after only three mixed competitive matches.

This announcement brought an end to an exhaustive search which witnessed more than 20 different options being studied. Availability was key to the new man being hired, the UAE Football Association not willing to wait for Ricardo Gareca of Peru and Jorge Luis Pinto of Honduras who are preparing for next month’s inter-confederation play-offs – which could lead to participation during the global extravaganza in Russia.

Tributes from lauded fellow Italians such as current and former Al Nasr tacticians Cesare Prandelli and Walter Zenga, plus the iconic Fabio Capello, helped convince the Whites board of Zaccheroni’s merits. His recent four-year spell at Japan also added weight, during which he won the 2011 Asian Cup and departed in the aftermath of a group-stage exit at World Cup 2014.

An initial offer was rejected last week by the 1998/99 Serie A winner with Milan. But a breakthrough in talks caused him to jet into Dubai airport late on Saturday night.

Zaccheroni was last employed by Beijing Guoan. He was sacked in May 2016 after five miserable months saw the club’s worst-ever start to the Chinese Super League recorded, this period including just two wins in nine fixtures.

With no World Cup ahead, Zaccheroni will concentrate on the upcoming continental competition. UAE FA president Marwan bin Ghalita has publicly targeted a minimum run to the final.

The UAE were ranked 72nd by FIFA on Monday, good enough only to be the seventh-best team in Asia.

The Whites will meet up early next month, ahead of a friendly at home to World Cup entrants Egypt on November 9. A second fixture is yet to be arranged.

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