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

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.”


Fury and Wilder weigh in big for their big heavyweight fight

Updated 59 min 28 sec ago

Fury and Wilder weigh in big for their big heavyweight fight

  • The two unbeaten heavyweights meet in a showdown just 14 months after they fought to a draw in a dramatic fight in Los Angeles

LAS VEGAS: Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder made one last appearance Friday before their big heavyweight title fight, weighing in and taunting each other before a raucous crowd at the MGM Grand arena.
Wilder weighed 231 pounds, the heaviest of his career, for his 11th title defense. Fury, meanwhile, tipped the scales at 273 pounds, just 3 pounds short of his heaviest ever, too, for Saturday night’s rematch.
The fighters jawed at each other from a distance after getting on the scales in the arena. Nevada boxing officials ruled they would not have a faceoff after pushing each other at the final press conference on Wednesday.
Thousands of fans, most of them supporting Fury, jammed the arena, waiting for several hours for the fighters to make their brief appearance on the scales. Though separated, the two fighters jawed at each other, much like they did at the press conference promoting the pay-per-view bout.
``I just told him, `24 hours, 24 hours,’’’ Wilder said. ``He’s nervous, nervous energy as always.’’
The two unbeaten heavyweights meet in a showdown just 14 months after they fought to a draw in a dramatic fight in Los Angeles. The fight is arguably the biggest heavyweight bout since Lennox Lewis demolished Mike Tyson in 2002, and both fighters could make some $40 million if the pay-per-view sells well.

Wilder weighed in at 231 pounds. (AFP)

Fury weighed in 16.5 pounds heavier than the first fight, and just 3 pounds short of what he weighed in his first comeback fight in 2018 after being out of the ring with drug and alcohol problems. Wilder was also heavier than expected, weighing 18.5 pounds more than the first fight.
``The weight’s not a problem,’’ the 6-foot-9 Fury said. ``It’s 273 pounds of pure British beef.’’
A fight that promises intriguing matchups matches two fighters with claims to titles — Fury’s is the mythical lineal crown — in a rematch of their draw a little more than a year ago. In that fight, Fury dominated the boxing but Wilder knocked him down in the ninth and 12th rounds before the judges scored it a draw.
Fury (29-0-1, 20 knockouts) predicted in the weeks leading up to the fight he would weigh about 270 pounds. He said he added the weight because he intends to go after Wilder from the opening bell in the rematch to try and score an early knockout.
``At the end of the day, we’re heavyweights,’’ Wilder said. ``So it doesn’t really matter about the weight.’’
In addition to the weight, Fury will have to deal with the possibility of the cut suffered around his right eye in his last fight will reopen. He usually trains without headgear but used it for the rematch because of the 47 stitches it took to sew the cut up after his hard-fought win in September against Sweden’s Otto Wallin.
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 knockouts) is making the 11th defense of the crown he won in 2015, the same year Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko to win a piece of the title. Fury didn’t fight for more than two years after that, giving up his crown as he descended into mental and drug problems and his weight ballooned to 375 pounds.