Former Al Wahda and Mexico coach Javier Aguirre has emerged as a potential option to lead the UAE on home soil at the 2019 Asian Cup.
The Whites are currently searching for a new boss after Argentine Edgardo Bauza shockingly moved to World Cup 2018 qualifiers Saudi Arabia last Thursday after only three competitive matches.
An emergency board meeting was held by the UAE Football Association on Tuesday, the identity of a successor one of several issues up for discussion. Trophy-hoarding Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club supremo Cosmin Olaroiu remains their No1 pick, but the Romanian both distanced himself from the job at the weekend and has one year remaining on his contract worth a reputed €6.5 million (Dh28.5m) per annum.
This has presented an opportunity for other candidates. Aguirre, 58, is unattached following an exit from the Clarets in the wake of May’s victory in the President’s Cup final and ex-Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka, 44, has also expressed an interest through his agents at DNN Sport.
According to Spanish media, the pair have turned down the chance this week to takeover pointless La Liga-strugglers Alaves.
Aguirre fulfils much of the criteria laid out when the governing body was searching for a successor to Mahdi Ali in the wake of March’s resignation. They coveted a Latin American coach, with experience of international football.
The ex-Atletico Madrid tactician led Mexico to second-round exits at the 2002 and 2010 World Cups. He would go on to resign from Japan in the wake of the UAE’s quarter-final victory against the Samurai Blue at the 2015 Asian Cup.
His candidature is further strengthened by a firm grasp of English and time leading Wahda from 2015-17, a run including victories in the 2015/16 Arabian Gulf Cup and 2016/17 President’s Cup.
Emerging Emirati talents such as forward Mohamed Al Akbari, defender Ahmed Rashed and attacker Mohammed Al Hammadi featured regularly under him.
But he was let go by Wahda after he could only finish a distant fifth in the 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League. Aguirre also stressed a desire to spend time with his family once he departed Abu Dhabi.
Another option is the combined team of Karanka and Spain Under-17 coach Santi. They would offer a project for the future, plus their joint wage would be less than the $4m a year agreed to by Bauza.
Karanka was assistant to Jose Mourinho from 2010-13 at Real Madrid, a club he previously played for.
Striking out on his own, he gained promotion for Middlesbrough while there from 2013-17. He departed by mutual consent in March after a difficult return to the Premier League.
The UAE currently have no friendlies booked for the next international break from October 2-10. Their failure to make World Cup 2018 was confirmed this month.
Know more about Sport360 Application