Dubai: Hitherto retatively unproclaimed and unheard of, the well-travelled Jorge Luis Pinto from Colombia could perhaps be the new UAE national football team coach.
According to a section of the Arabic media, Pinto has reportedly given his assent to being the new coach and it is now up to the UAE Football Association’s (UAE FA) board of directors to formalise the new appointment.
Pinto will assume the national football team’s reins from Serbian Jovan Ivanovic, who was asked to part ways on mutual terms earlier this year without assuming charge of the national team’s campaign even in a single match.
The 68-year-old Pinto has reportedly been offered a two-year contract with the UAE national team, with the option of a further extension depending, of course, of results. His primary task will be to oversee the UAE’s Group G qualifying campaign for World Cup Qatar 2022.
With a game in hand, the Whites still have a chance of advancing to the third stages of qualifying provided they can win all of their next four matches. The good thing is that three of their four matches will be on home turf with the first one coming up against Malaysia on October 8.
The UAE will then travel to Indonesia for their second qualifier on November 13, followed by the last two encounters at home against Thailand (November 12) and Vietnam (November 17).
The UAE are in fourth place with six points in Group G that is being led by Vietnam with 11 points, followed by Malaysia (9) and Thailand (8).
In fact, it was Jovanovic who was set to lead the UAE in their last four matches of the Asian Qualifiers for the World Cup and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, but the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the ties thus ending the Serbian’s tenure here.
Now with football and other sports restarting across the globe, the UAE has turned to the fourth-largest country in South America for its next coach.
Born on December 16, 1952, Pinto is currently in charge of the Bogota-based Millonarios FC that plays in the Categoria Primera A league. Pinto also made his coaching debut with the same club way back at the start of the 1984-85 season. Since the start of his coaching career, Pinto has gone through employment at a total of 23 different clubs mostly in his native Colombia.
Named Concacaf’s coach of the year in 2014, Pinto’s second individual glorious moment came later the same year when he was named the ‘Best Colombian Coach of 2014’.
The UAE’s next coach also enjoyed stints with national teams starting off with Costa Rica (in 2004-2005), with his native Colombia during their failed qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup, and then again with Costa Rica, who he led at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
In Brazil, Pinto’s team secured a 3-1 victory over Uruguay and then a shock 1-0 victory over Italy before a goalless draw against England saw Costa Rica finish first in the group and to make only their second entry into the World Cup Round of 16. At the end of June 2014, Costa Rica beat Greece on penalties and went through to the quarter-finals where they eventually lost on penalties to the Netherlands after a goalless draw.
His last stint with a national team was when he was manager for the Honduras in their inter-continental play-offs against Australia for a place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. However, the South Americans lost 1-3 on aggregate to the Socceroos and Pinto later stepped down as coach.