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New UAE coach Pinto has a match on his hands

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on June 30, 2020
Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto may have to recreate the same magic that he weaved with the Costa Ricans. - AFP file

The experienced 67-year-old has vowed that he will give it his everything and reignite The Whites' World Cup qualifying campaign

Perhaps, Jorge Luis Pinto is a man who relishes a challenge. The Colombian, best known for steering Costa Rica to the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, has one on his hands right now - that of guiding UAE to their second ever appearance at football's showpiece.

The experienced 67-year-old has been offered a contract by the UAE Football Association (UAEFA), with the remit to guide The Whites in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

And the script couldn't be better set up for Pinto, whose tactical nous was evident as he outthought Cesar Prandelli's Italy and Oscar Tabarez's Uruguay en route to the best ever showing by the Los Ticos.

Pinto will be tasked with breathing life into a campaign that is teetering on the edge and traipsing on a thin fine line.

The UAE find themselves in a precarious position, fourth in Group G with leaders Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand above them.

The Whites had begun their campaign with a 2-1 victory away against Malaysia and followed that up by swamping Indonesia 5-0 at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.

But then, a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Thailand and a 1-0 loss to Vietnam, under Dutchman Bert van Marwijk, has put a spanner in the works, so to speak.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the postponement of the joint World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifying fixtures, The Whites will resume their campaign in October under a new manager.

And Pinto, who also managed Colombia and Honduras, vowed that he will give it his everything and reignite a UAE campaign that is flickering in the wind.

"We will give everything working very hard to bring @uaefa_ae to the second world championship in its history, thanks to the president and his managers for trusting, and to all those who in Colombia and the world have been aware," Pinto tweeted late on Monday night.

The squad is set to reassemble on July 11 but Pinto has already done a bit of homework by pouring over videos of UAE's previous matches.

By the time he links up with his new wards, Pinto, who will be making his first managerial foray in this part of the world, will have a better idea of the rich talent that is present here, and will be up and running.

The road to the third round, let alone the World Cup, is by no means easy, considering the situation The Whites are in. But it is not impossible.

Pinto may have to recreate the same magic that he weaved with the Costa Ricans, who stunned the likes of Uruguay and Italy in Brazil six years ago, with the UAE.

The UAE have to win their remaining four fixtures to make it to the third round of qualifying. First up, they host Malaysia at home on October 8 before travelling to Indonesia for their second fixture on October 13.

Their remaining two matches are at home to Thailand on November 12 and Vietnam on November 17.

It is not quite dissimilar to the Group of Death that the Costa Ricans had found themselves in back then but one can hope and trust Pinto to help the UAE come out unscathed and make it out alive.

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