Dubai: The UAE’s new coach Jorge Luis Pinto has assured that he would not be leaving anything to chance as he prepares for his latest assignment with the national football team.
The 68-year-old Colombian, who had gone ahead with the signing of the pre-agreement over the weekend, told media in Colombia that he has been preparing for a new challenge in the Arab world while scanning through players’ profiles and other minute details.
The appointment of Pinto was given the green light on Thursday with the well-travelled Colombian agreeing to take over the UAE’s campaign in the second round for qualifying for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup in China.
Pinto, who was with Bogota-based club side Millonarios until his appointment with the UAE, has promised to be in the country as soon as travel restrictions are lifted from coronavirus-hit South America. He assumes charge of the UAE national team from Serbia’s Jovan Ivanovic, who was asked to part ways on mutual terms earlier this year without even playing a single match.
The new coach has reportedly been offered an initial two-year contract with the national squad, with the option of a further extension depending, of course, on results in the future. His primary task, however, will be to oversee the UAE’s Group G qualifying campaign for Qatar 2022 that will get under way from early October.
“I had been made a similar offer by the UAE Football Association more than two years back to lead the team for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia. But I had already signed with Honduras and I couldn’t go back on my word to them,” Pinto told media in Colombia.
“But now the option has been presented to me a second time and I want to look at it as a challenge in keeping with the high goals set by those involved with the UAE FA. It’s going to be a long journey to start with, but it is something that I want to make it worth the while and the trouble. To me, this is going to be the latest challenge and I think I am up for this challenge.”
Pinto disclosed that he had also been in touch further east to lead China’s campaign on home ground at the 2023 Asian Cup. “But to me, the UAE offers a better challenge as it is a country that has a true following for football, and I feel this is going to be a worthwhile journey,” Pinto said.
“We have already started our evaluations of possible players while studying videos from past matches. I am told the UAE has a well-organised organised football programme and I will be looking at how we can maximise on this and get the best results.”
The UAE can still advance to the third round of the qualifiers, provided they win their next four matches starting with their opener against Malaysia on October 8. Five days later, they will travel to Indonesia before their last two home matches against Thailand (November 12) and Vietnam (November 17).
The UAE currently lie 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).
Before accepting the offer from the UAE, Pinto has also coached native Colombia during their campaign for the 2010 World Cup and then Costa Rica for the global tournament in Rio de Janeiro four years later. His last national assignment was with the national team of Honduras.