UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni has revealed his hard-line plan for success at January 2019’s Asian Cup does not include tolerating any ill-disciplined players – no matter their reputation.
Zaccheroni, 65, mapped out the host’s detailed route to next year’s tournament on Saturday at the UAE Football Association’s headquarters in Al Khawaneej, Dubai. The Italian’s first six months in charge have been dominated by the apparent exclusion of 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman and 2015 Asian Cup top scorer Ali Mabkhout.
The celebrated pair broke curfew the night before January 6’s miserable Gulf Cup defeat to Oman, subsequently missing March’s King’s Cup in Thailand. Although Zaccheroni claimed his “door is open to each and every player”, it is apparent any further infractions will be met with severe sanction in the run-up to January 5’s Group A-opener against Bahrain.
“I praise the discipline of the players and their commitment to attend training until this date,” said the ex-AC Milan, Juventus and Japan boss. “There is no doubt that all my players will be fully ready and have the incentive to compete in the Asian Cup with all their force.
“We will, undoubtedly, be very careful to instil discipline. Any player will be excluded that does not comply.”
He added: “The squad is open to any player that emerges. My door is open to each and every player.”
The Whites next congregate from August 1-18 in Salzburg, Austria. A pair of stints then follow in Spain – October 6-16 in Girona and November 6-20 in Barcelona.
#زاكيروني:— قناة دبي الرياضية (@dubaisportstv) May 12, 2018
-المعسكر الإعدادي للمنتخب سيبدأ في الأول من اغسطس
-المعسكر الأول سيكون في أوروبا وهو الأهم بالنسبة لي
-سيتم إقامة 4 مباريات ودية في المعسكر الأول إضافة إلى مباراة رسمية#الإمارات #كأس_آسيا 2019 pic.twitter.com/i2jKIo04jS
Preparations are wound up in Dubai/Abu Dhabi from November 6-20 and Abu Dhabi from December 15-31.
Friendly matches will be contested at each stage. They will not play any fellow Asian nations.
Zaccheroni has been tasked to improve on 2015’s third spot under Mahdi Ali and make the final on home soil, in a repeat of 1996’s event. To do this, the 1998/99 Serie A winner will need to cure a chronic lack of goals – his charges have scored just five times in 10 matches.
“I have read a lot recently about my use of a 3-4-3 formation,” Zaccheroni said. “This method won many titles at AC Milan, but I did not rely on any specific formation throughout my career.”
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