Discord within the UAE squad and panic by the UAE Football Association about embarrassment on home soil at next year’s Asian Cup are growing after a 2-0 defeat to undercooked Trinidad and Tobago made it five internationals without victory for coach Alberto Zaccheroni.
Goals in either half from Ataulla Guerra and Nathan Lewis at a deserted Estadio Municipal de Montilivi saw the Soca Warriors cruise to victory. This was despite the fact they last played in April, plus were unable to train in Catalonia until Wednesday because of an unforeseen lack of access to facilities.
With less than 120 days to go until the continental kick-off against Bahrain on January 5 at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City, the Whites are in a sorry state. Thursday’s setback followed on from last month’s appalling goalless draw against minnows Andorra, results that mean just four goals have been scored in the 12 matches overseen by Zaccheroni since his October 2017 appointment.
Legendary former Al Jazira tactician Henk ten Cate heads a list of potential successors should the desire for change catalyse after Tuesday’s run-out against lowly Laos.
“The players have made it known that they are not happy about the way things are going under Zaccheroni,” a source close to the squad said.
“Now, the UAE FA are losing patience and are worried about being embarrassed on home soil.
“Henk ten Cate was very successful at Al Jazira and has an excellent relationship with the players. He would be a strong option to lead the nation at the Asian Cup.”
Peru’s Ricardo Gareca and ex-Honduras boss Jorge Luis Pinto were among those considered before last year’s ill-judged hirings of Edgardo Bauza and Zaccheroni.
But with time running out, Ten Cate’s candidature holds special value.
He boasts current knowledge of the playing pool, plus strong relationships with the likes of Jazira hot shot Ali Mabkhout after he lifted the 2016 President’s Cup and 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium from December 2015-May 2018.
Rising UAE Under-23 talents such as Zayed Al Ameri, Mohamed Al Attas and Ahmed Al Attas were among the youngsters to gain valuable minutes during his tenure.
He previously turned down the Netherlands job in April 2017.
Zaccheroni’s record in charge now reads four wins, three draws and five defeats. His last victory came on January 2 against Iraq in the Gulf Cup semi-finals.
The ex-AC Milan, Juventus and Japan tactician has been tasked with making the Asian Cup final.
Know more about Sport360 Application