Dubai: Former Sweden, Bani Yas and Al Hilal winger Christian Wilhelmsson has called upon the football authorities in the UAE to opt for a passionate coach rather than a big name for its national team.
The UAE Football Association (UAE FA) parted ways with Ivan Jovanovic earlier this year even before the Serbian could lead the national squad in a single competitive match. Since then, the UAE FA is believed to chalk up a list of potential managers who could take over the UAE’s nearly derailed campaigns for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
Rumours have been doing the rounds in UAE footballing circles with the names of former Shabab Al Ahli Dubai coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena, Al Ain coaches Zlatko Dalic and Zoran Mamic and Saudi Arabia’s manager Juan Antonio Pizzi among those being linked to take over the national squad in the near future. However, the UAE FA is yet to comment or make an announcement on the new coach.
“I think I have the perfect candidate in mind for the UAE team,” Wilhelmsson told Al Ittihad’s Murad Al Masri in a Twitter chat, late on Thursday.
“I think the UAE should have a coach who is firstly very passionate about football, someone with a great know-how of the game. I don’t think he should be someone who is experienced with a big CV or someone who has a big name. That’s certainly should not be the key. I think we are done with that. What is important is how well he knows his football and how well he can put together the best national team,” the 40-year-old former winger at Bani Yas added.
“A national team is not the same as a club team.
“In a national team, the coach has to get the best out of the players each time they all get-togerher for a limited period of time. Managing a club team and a national team are two different things, and the key will be to find such a coach who has all these attributes to deliver.”
The UAE should have a coach who is firstly very passionate about football, someone with a great know-how of the game. I don’t think he should be someone who is experienced with a big CV or someone who has a big name.
Now a resident of Dubai with his family, Wilhelmsson spent four seasons with Saudi Arabia’s three-time Asian champions Al Hilal. He also had a brief stint at Abu Dhabi’s Bani Yas while scoring three goals in his eight appearances midway through the 2013-2014 season.
With the coach sorted out, Wilhelmsson further spoke on the development of a football model in the UAE. “What’s important for countries who don’t have the numbers (unlike as in Saudi Arabia or Germany), these nations need to focus on a strategy that is based on education. This education has to start when the players are 8 years old and go on till they are 16 and ready to break into the national squad,” he said.
“Sweden doesn’t have a big population, and yet they bring forth a lot of players. UAE can be the same, but it will all come down to the education and the academies and the sustained growth over a period of time. I think a lot can be done in this field here.”
Wilhelmsson was in praise of a talent like playmaker Omar Abdul Rahman, who is currently with Al Jazira after spending an injury-ridden season and a half with Al Hilal.
“Quality-wise, Omar can play anywhere, be it in Saudi Arabia and in Europe as well,” he said.
“But then that’s the thing. It all comes down to the mentality and how he reacts after his injury and how motivated he is going forward.”