Lebanon's new coach...a challenging and adventurous journey to reach the 2026 World Cup

Lebanon’s new coach…a challenging and adventurous journey to reach the 2026 World Cup

Lebanon prepares for the 2023 Asian Cup and 2026 World Cup qualifiers (Francois Niel/Getty)

A new journey in Lebanese football with a new coach who seeks to achieve an achievement in a country that suffers at all levels, especially the sports sector in general, and the game of football in particular, in light of the lack of this country with the ingredients for success, due to the weakness of sports facilities, and the state’s lack of interest at all, Amid a historical collapse of the exchange rate of the local currency (the lira) against the US dollar, and successive crises with semi-permanent electricity, water, fuel, and even bread cuts.

Away from the suffering of the Lebanese people, and even their sport, coach Alexander Ilic comes on an adventurous mission to succeed Czech Ivan Hashek, whose contract expired about 4 months ago, during which the Cedars team was eliminated from the final round of the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup Qatar 2022, after poor results. Despite a good start at the outset.

On paper, the task of the 53-year-old new coach seems well known, during which the team will prepare for the 2023 Asian Cup, pending the selection of the country that will host the event on October 16, 2022 by the Executive Office of the Asian Football Confederation.

The most important task

After the end of the 2023 Asian Cup, which will undoubtedly be important for the Lebanese team in its third participation in the tournament, the coach, if he achieves good results, will have to prepare for what is coming in the long term, especially since failure during the Asian version may mean immediate dismissal if What disastrous results. But of course, the Lebanese national team possesses a kind of stability by not receiving heavy defeats, relying on good defensive performance and its great lack of system performance and the offensive ball that is absent from it, amid an almost continuous failure to score goals.

Ilic will have to prepare for the double Asian qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup in the United States of America, Canada and Mexico, and the Lebanese dream of achieving a historic achievement by reaching the most prominent competition will be great, especially after raising the number of teams that will represent the Asian continent to 8 instead of 4 currently and a fifth is playing Supplement.

Undoubtedly, the coach’s arrival in Lebanon, and his follow-up to the local league that will start soon, will give him a clear picture of the level of the local players who are active in the team, or even the rising youth who are supposed to form the nucleus of the team for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, knowing that The file of foreign players and professionals abroad will be of great importance to raise the level of the national team in general, and to benefit from their experience and contact with distinguished players in the European continent in particular.

Coach’s career

Ilic was born on June 26, 1969, and during his career as a football player he occupied a position in the back line, and his beginning was with one of the most famous clubs in his country, the Serbian Red Star, but he did not succeed in proving himself, and he was loaned a year after the start of his professional career to the club Radnichki Nis, who spent 4 years with him from 1991 to 1995, scored 5 goals in 55 games, and was loaned in 1994 to the Spanish club Cadiz, and participated with him in 23 games, during which he scored one goal, then moved to Banilikos, who played 63 games During which he scored 5 goals between 1995 and 1997, before he starred in Club Brugge, who played 66 games and scored 8 goals, winning the League champion in 1998, the Cup in 1996, and the Super twice in 1996 and 1998, to leave for Anderlecht in 2000, and spend there 3 Years, during which he won the league title in 2001, and the cup in 2001 and 2002, scoring 3 goals in 62 matches, and then joining the Dutch club Vitesse in 2004, which he retired from.

After the end of his career as a player, he moved to work in the field of coaching, and had a long experience in the Arab region, and this matter may well be reflected on the level of the Lebanese national team in the coming period.

Ilyich supervised the Saudi Al-Ahly, Kuwaiti Al-Qadisiyah, Al-Raed and Al-Batin teams, in addition to the Iraqi police, who obtained the European Training Certificate “UEFA Pro” in 2008, and began on this journey in 2010 from the Radnichki team gate, to go to Saudi Arabia in 2011 for a period of only 4 months Where he worked as an assistant to the Norwegian coach Trond Soled, and succeeded with him in winning the King’s Cup title, before returning to the Radnicki team, which led him to achieve the Serbian League title in the 2011-2012 season.

During his training career, Ilic was able to play the role of savior twice for the Saudi Al-Raed club, after the latter was close to falling to the second division in 2016 and 2018, but the Serbian coach was on time to save the team from this disaster.

After leaving Saudi Arabia and moving to Iraq, he succeeded with the Police Club in winning the local Super Cup in 2019, to return and work last year in Saudi Arabia with Al-Qadisiyah Club, and now coaching Lebanon will be his first stop at the national team level, it may be a different experience, given that the friction With players, it does not happen permanently and for a long time, as is the case with teams, but all possibilities are open, so will he succeed in this difficult task?

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