Cosmin Olaroiu is No1 pick for UAE to replace Edgardo Bauza after stunning Saudi Arabia switch

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Pastures new: Cosmin Olaroiu is wanted by the UAE (Twitter/@alahlicclub)

The UAE face a tough challenge once again to convince reluctant Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club coach Cosmin Olaroiu to lead them on home soil at the 2019 Asian Cup, following Edgardo Bauza’s shocking defection to Saudi Arabia late on Thursday night.

A surprise chain of events has led to tumultuous change in the Arabian Gulf. Enraged Dutchman Bert van Marwijk terminated talks about a contract renewal just a week since qualifying his adopted nation to World Cup 2018 after an epic fallout with the Saudi Football Federation about their reportedly unilateral decision to dismiss members of his coaching staff, plus a dogged reluctance to live in the Kingdom.

This astonishing development saw them move for Bauza. He took the UAE post in May on a one-a-half-year deal after his sacking by Argentina, with a press conference only held on Tuesday in which he mapped out the future alongside senior UAE Football Association officials in the wake of the disappointing failure to make 2018’s global tournament.

Without the knowledge of Van Marwijk, harmonious negotiations between the two governing bodies reached a swift conclusion that ensured El Paton’s spell in charge of the Whites has finished after three competitive games – June’s 1-1 draw in Thailand, plus this month’s 2-1 victory against the Saudis and 1-0 loss to Iraq. Into this vacuum, Olaroiu, 48, has emerged as the governing body’s overwhelming No1 pick.

He is held in the highest regard following stints with Al Ain and – the now defunct – Al Ahli which have seen 10 pieces of silverware lifted during six years in the Emirates.

Another advantage for Olaroiu is the deep links he has forged while successfully coaching the majority of the current UAE squad at various junctures. These include 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman, 2015 recipient Ahmed Khalil and key centre-back Ismail Ahmed.

He was shortlisted as a replacement for Mahdi Ali once he resigned in March, although a concentration on club commitments prevailed.

This stance looks to be repeated less than six months later.

Olaroiu currently holds no desire to manage another national team. A group-stage exit was incurred when on loan with the Saudis for the 2015 Asian Cup.

An intent to explore heading back to Europe when his reputed €6.5 million (Dh28.6m) per annum deal expires at Shabab Al Ahli next summer was also cited at the time.

Such figures appear far beyond the budget of the UAE. Bauza was contracted for just $4m a year.

Frustrations about an inability to complete any incoming transactions at his merged club are not currently large enough to force an exit.

One alternative target could be respected ex-Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka.

Shabab Al Ahli today kick-off their 2017/18 Arabian Gulf League commitments at home to Hatta.

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