Abu Dhabi: The UAE FA has sacked Slovenian coach Srecko Katanec following the team’s humiliating 3-1 defeat against Lebanon in Beirut. The loss almost ended the UAE’s hope of reaching the final round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Brazilian coach Abel Braga, head coach for Fluminense Club in Brazil and the coach who led Al Jazira to win the Double last season, is the favourite to take over from Katanec in order to prepare the team for their next match against group favourite South Korea in Seoul on October 11.
The UAE team slumped to a surprising 3-1 defeat against lowly Lebanon in Beirut to take the last position Group B in the Asian qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup.
The UAE trounced the Lebanese team 6-2 just last month in a friendly match. But Tuesday the hosts showed more determination and fighting spirit.
The UAE, despite taking the lead when Mahmoud Khamis put them ahead with a header in the 15th minute following a free kick from Subait Khater, gave the game away to their opponents.
They committed several individual and collective mistakes in marking, covering, passing and shooting while the Lebanese came back strongly.
Hassan Ma'atoug and Redha Antar of Lebanon controlled the midfield and organised many attacking moves, especially on the left side of the UAE defence.
There, Yousuf Jaber and Waleed Abbass operated and Abbass gave away a penalty in the 36th minute which Mohammad Ghaddar converted correctly for the equaliser. The Lebanese players started the second half from where they left first and continued to press for another goal while the UAE continued to make the same mistakes.
Their coach did not talk to them about it during the break or help them figure out how to iron the flaws which enabled their opponents to equalise.
The Lebanese efforts were rewarded in the 52nd minute when Akram Maghrebi added the second goal, yet again following a cross from the left side of the UAE team.
Antar added insult to injury when he headed the third goal home for Lebanon in the 81st minute.
"We played with a defensive plan which we were not accustomed to," Majed Nasir, the UAE custodian, said after the match. "I blame myself, my colleagues and the technical staff for the defeat."
The UAE has almost lost all hope of reaching the final stage of the qualifiers as they have no points yet from two matches.
They are the only team in the group without a single point and they will travel to Seoul to face favourites South Korea on October 11. The Koreans started their campaign by trouncing Lebanon 6-0.