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Competing in Champions League and defeating Pep Guardiola, WHO is the head coach of UAE U23?

Competing in Champions League and defeating Pep Guardiola, WHO is the head coach of UAE U23?

The appearance of Maciej Skorza – a talented manager of UAE U23 – will bring much excitement and attention to the AFC U23 Championship.

Imagine yourself going down as the first ever manager who ever defeated the great Pep Guardiola in a competitive match. Back in 2008, the “Polish Benitez” masterminded a much memorable 1-0 win with Wisla Krakow against a star-studded side Barcelona at the second leg of the Champions League third qualifying round. That victory didn’t help them advance, as the Polish side were thrashed 4-0 at Camp Nou before, but Skorza ended up in the history of one of the few people who has overcome Pep.

Following that unforgettable victory, he has managed a handful of other Polish football clubs, including Legia Warszawa, Lech Poznań and Pogoń Szczecin. Skorza has held the Polish Champion for 3 times, 2 with Wisla Krakow and 1 with Lech Poznań, aside from 3 Polish Cups and 1 Polish Super Cup. He left Poland briefly for a year in 2012 after a drastic season with Legia Warszawa to escape the criticism to manage the Saudi Arabian side Ettifaq FC. That is where Maciej Skorza had his first sight of Asian football.

Competing in Champions League and defeating Pep Guardiola, WHO is the head coach of UAE U23?

Skorza celebrated Polish Championship with Lech Poznan in 2015

Having been through many ups and downs in his club managerial career, Maciej Skorza stepped in as the UAE U23 manager, involving at the national career for the first time, and will lead the side in the upcoming AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020. He took the job back in 2018, with the view of developing a much-talented generation of UAE football to new glory.

Asian Games 2018 was Maciej Skorza's first major tournament as the manager of UAE U23. They made it through the group stage with only 3 points after 3 matches, after losses against China and Syria, but Skorza side were brilliant at the Round of 16 and the Quarter-Finals, emerging victorious in the penalty shootout against the host nation Indonesia and did it once again with North Korea to make it to the Semi-Finals. Facing a much more organized Japan, UAE came up short with a goal conceded at the 78th minute. They left the competition with a Bronze medal after succeeding in the shootout for the third time in the tournament against Vietnam.

Competing in Champions League and defeating Pep Guardiola, WHO is the head coach of UAE U23?

Bronze-medalist UAE celebrated after winning the penalty shootout against Vietnam

UAE will first face Vietnam once again in the first match of the AFC U23 Championship 2020 on January 10. Apart from Vietnam, they will encounter DPR Korea and Jordan in Group D, with chances to advance to the next stage are relatively high. But with a setback in preparation as striker Mohammed Juma was sent home after suffering a knee injury in a pre-tournament friendly, Skorza has stated before the tournament: “It’s not a good situation when you lose one of your best strikers before the first game. We wish Juma to recover fast, but we have some very interesting cover players. We will be focusing on our duties and the job at hand rather than players who are not available."

Competing in Champions League and defeating Pep Guardiola, WHO is the head coach of UAE U23?

Skorza (left side) and three other managers are positive at the press conference

The match against Vietnam will be a much anticipated one, as two most favorites to make it through the group stage go head-to-head. Both Maciej Skorza and Park Hang Seo of Vietnam must bring their A-game to battle for the first place of the group, as their potential opponents at the knock-out stage are the reigning champion Uzbekistan, South Korea – a side filled with talents and flair or Iran – an experienced side with a tough football style of play.