Ivan Jovanovic, the new UAE coach.
Ivan Jovanovic has departed as UAE coach. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The current situation due to the coronavirus pandemic has forced the hand of the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) in terminating the contract of national football team coach Ivan Jovanovic even before the team playing a single match.

Thanking the 57-year-old Serbian coach, a press release from the UAE FA has wished the coach and his team of assistants all the best for their future endeavours.

“The decision was made based on the recommendation of the Football Association’s National Teams and Technical Affairs Committee headed by Yousuf Hussain Al Sahlawi,” the press release has stated.

“The Board of the Football Association [has] delegated the National Teams and Technical Affairs Committee to sign with a new technical staff to lead the team during the coming period,” the statement added.

A notable midfielder during his playing days, Jovanovic started off with FK Rad in the former Yugoslav First League during the 1987-88 season. He transferred to Greek side Iraklis where he played until the end of his career in 1999.

Though he began his managerial career with Greek side Niki Volou in 2001, it wasn’t until his third stint with Cypriot team APOEL that Jovanovic tasted huge doses of successes. He is the most successful coach for the Nicosia-based team with nine trophies, four Championships, one Cup and four Super Cups. And his biggest achievement with APOEL was leading them to qualify for the Uefa Champions League on two occasions.

The Cypriot club made history in 2009 when they made it to the top club-level competition in Europe, and then two years later, they famously topped the group while beating Olympique Lyonnais before being knocked out by Spanish giants Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.

After Cyprus, Jovanovic served two terms with Al Nasr Club (June 2013 to October 2016 and January 2018 to December 2018). After more than a year without any assignment, Jovanovic was appointed in the second half of December last year, in place of Dutchman Bert van Marwijk for a six-month period to take charge of the UAE’s campaign at the 2022 Fifa World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

The UAE were to take on Malaysia at home on March 26 before playing Indonesia away five days later. They were to then conclude their campaign against Thailand and Vietnam on home soil on June 4 and 9, respectively. Vietnam are currently at the top of the standings in Group G with 11 points, followed by Malaysia (9), Thailand (8) and the UAE (6).