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

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Van Marwijk is hoping his new players hear him loud and clear as he bids to lead them to Qatar 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 22 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.”


Alex McLeish sacked as Scotland manager

Updated 18 April 2019
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Alex McLeish sacked as Scotland manager

  • McLeish was hired in February last year and led Scotland to the top of their Nations League group, securing the safety net of a playoff should they fail to qualify automatically for the Euros next year
  • However, qualifying got off to the worst possible start in Kazakhstan and an unconvincing 2-0 victory over San Marino three days later did little to further McLeish’s case to be kept on

LONDON: Alex McLeish’s second term as Scotland manager ended on Thursday as he was sacked following a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan to begin their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign last month.
“Ultimately, the performances and results as a whole in the past year — and, in particular, the manner of the defeat in Kazakhstan — did not indicate the progress expected with a squad we believe to be capable of achieving more,” Ian Maxwell, the Scottish FA’s chief executive, said in a statement.
McLeish was hired in February last year and led Scotland to the top of their Nations League group, securing the safety net of a playoff should they fail to qualify automatically for the Euros next year from a group containing Belgium and Russia.
However, qualifying got off to the worst possible start in Kazakhstan and an unconvincing 2-0 victory over San Marino three days later did little to further McLeish’s case to be kept on.
Scotland have not qualified for a major tournament since 1998, but Hampden will host four matches at Euro 2020 and the SFA are hoping to reinvigorate the qualifying campaign under new management.
“We firmly believe we have the potential to recover from the opening group defeat and unlock the potential of this exciting squad of players for the remainder of the campaign, safe in the knowledge we also have the play-offs as an additional route to UEFA Euro 2020,” added Maxwell.
McLeish led Scotland to the brink of qualifying for Euro 2008 in his first spell in charge, missing out in the final qualifier at home to Italy before leaving for Birmingham.
His second stint managing the national team lasted just 12 games, winning five and losing seven.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to have managed my country for a second time and leave knowing that I gave my all in the pursuit of success,” said McLeish.
“I am proud that together we finished top of our UEFA Nations League group and qualified for the UEFA EURO 2020 play-offs, which gives us a real opportunity to reach a major tournament for the first time in over 20 years.”
The pressure is now on the SFA to make an appointment in time for Scotland’s next Euro qualifiers at home to Cyprus and away to Belgium in June.