Alberto Zaccheroni hopes UAE can kick on from win over India

Mabkhout and Zaccherroni celebrate after the 2-0 win over India. (AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Alberto Zaccheroni hopes UAE can kick on from win over India

  • Italian coach confident victory over India is just the start.
  • UAE face Thailand in crunch clash on Monday.

LONDON: Alberto Zaccheroni said the UAE’s 2-0 win over India on Thursday could be a springboard to a successful tournament.
The hosts needed a late goal to rescue a point in their opening match against Bahrain last Saturday — the only thing more underwhelming than the result being the performance.
That came on the back of a patchy run of form and questions about the ability of the Whites to to mount a title challenge on home soil.
But having beaten India — thanks to goals either side of half-time from Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkhout — the side’s Italian coach praised his players for the improved showing.
“I think our first game and performance against Bahrain was a rather deceiving one,” he said.
“We were very disappointed not to get the win in that match, but against India we started very well from the beginning, and our performance was gradually evolving and getting better throughout the match.
“We faced some difficulties at times against a very good and fast India side.
“I congratulate my players for their efforts, they truly deserved the victory.”
The UAE’s progress is still far from assured, with just one point separating them from India in second and third-placed Thailand who they will meet in their final group match on Monday.
Zaccheroni is only too aware of what is at stake and will now study the Southeast Asians closely in order tmake sure his side can make the second round.
“We admit that our defense has not been entirely effective, but the general performance was good and winning with a great spirit was very important,” he said.
“Following their loss to India, the Thailand team changed their coach. However, they then went on to change their style and tactics when they beat Bahrain. I now need to study Thailand closely in order to prepare my team for what will be a difficult match.”


Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019
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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”