Jorge Luis Pinto was convinced about the UAE’s “determination and ability” to make World Cup 2022, even prior to meeting his new charges for the first time.
Pinto, 67, was unveiled on Wednesday afternoon as the Whites’ fifth permanent head coach in three, tumultuous, years. The intense Colombian then travelled from the UAE Football Association’s Al Khawaneej base to Al Ain’s glorious Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, where a training camp with 28 players is now under way until July 27 within the three-part process of getting the side in shape for October’s critical resumption of the second-round qualifiers.
“Training the UAE is an attractive and wonderful challenge,” said the tactician who, famously, guided Costa Rica to World Cup 2014’s quarter-finals. “I am more than willing to go to the World Cup with them.
“I know the difficulty of the task, because we will face strong teams. But I am sure of the determination and ability of the players to overcome it and be present for the second time at the World Cup.”
Pinto was announced as replacement for Ivan Jovanovic on June 29, the Serbian lasting only 106 days and not leading a single match because of coronavirus.
He has inherited a team who sit fourth in Group G, five points off leaders Vietnam albeit with a game in hand. They face Malaysia at home on October 8, before travelling to battle Indonesia five days later.
Crunch clashes against Thailand and Vietnam, both at home, await on November 12 and 17. Only section winners are guaranteed to progress to the third round, alongside the four best runners-up from the eight pools.
The UAE have only previously made the 1990 edition.
Introductory sessions in the Garden City – with the naturalised trio of Al Nasr striker Sebastian Tagliabue, Al Ain attacker Caio Canedo and Al Wasl forward Fabio De Lima all present – are then followed by a lengthy European camp from August 1-23. Bosnia and Herzegovina was highlighted as the likely location by UAE FA second vice-president and ex-Italia 90’ centre-back Yousuf Hussain.
International friendlies have been booked in versus Jordan on September 4 and Tajikistan on September 8.
The UAE’s defence came under intense criticism when Bert van Marwijk’s short tenure imploded with defeats at Thailand and Vietnam, plus a wretched Gulf Cup. This suspect area is not, however, Pinto’s sole focus.
He said: “I have a lot of notes on the UAE, and most importantly how the team performs collectively. I want to leave a special imprint and I will try to develop the tactical side of the players.
“We will work to develop all aspects during the preparation period and the current gathering will be a good opportunity to get to know the players closely and work with them closely.”
He added: “The UAE team needs to develop on all sides, not only in the defensive part. More importantly, we need to ensure balance and how to defend with the fewest number of players and attack with a greater number without losing balance.
“I am sure we will contribute to the development of the UAE national team.”
Pinto – who also led Colombia from 2007-08 – was last employed at Millonarios, spending a year at the Bogota giants until exiting in November. His Honduras side was defeated by Australia in the inter-continental play-off to make World Cup 2018.
UAE TRAINING SQUAD
Al Ain: Khalid Essa, Ismail Ahmed, Mohamed Ahmed, Bandar Al Ahbabi, Ahmed Barman, Yahya Nader, Mohamed Abdulrahman, Caio Canedo; Al Jazira: Ali Khaseif, Khalifa Al Hammadi, Mohammed Al Attas, Salem Rashid, Abdullah Ramadan, Omar Abdulrahman, Khalfan Mubarak, Zayed Al Ameri, Ali Mabkhout; Al Nasr: Mahmoud Khamis, Tariq Ahmed, Sebastian Tagliabue; Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club: Abdulaziz Haikal, Mohammed Marzouq, Walid Abbas, Yousef Jaber, Majed Hassan, Ismail Al Hammadi, Ahmed Khalil; Sharjah: Adel Al Hosani, Salem Sultan, Majed Surour; Al Wahda: Mohamed Al Shamsi, Mohammed Al Menhali, Khamis Esmail; Al Wasl: Ali Salmeen, Fabio De Lima, Ali Saleh
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