Wed 23 Sep 2009 09:47 AM
Milan Macala

Milan Macala

Industry: Sport

Designation: Head coach, Bahrain national football team (WC playoff)

Country: Bahrain

Citizenship: Czech Republic

Occupation: Head coach, Bahrain national football team (WC playoff)

There’s a good reason it’s called the beautiful game. Football can be the cruellest of sports, but also the greatest, and this was illustrated perfectly by Bahrain’s recent World Cup Playoff victory over Saudi Arabia.

When Saudi took the lead in injury time at the end of the game, it was surely enough to send them through. And yet Milan Macala’s men from Manama somehow raised themselves to equalise 30 seconds later, sending Bahrain bonkers and the Saudi players sinking to their knees.

All of which means that in October Czech national Macala will take Bahrain into a new two-legged playoff with New Zealand. The winner of that tie can book their tickets for the tournament proper in South Africa next summer, and the entire island will be willing its coach and players on.

World Cup Qualification will mean hero status for a man already widely regarded as one of the best coaches in West Asia. The 66-year-old first arrived in the region in 1994, and has since held a number of club jobs in Kuwait and UAE, as well as managing the Kuwait, UAE, Oman and Saudi national sides.