Alfred Riedl succumbed to a long battle with cancer on Monday, he was 70. Riedl was well known in Asian Football having led the national teams of Vietnam, Laos, and Indonesia as well as Palestine.
As a player, Riedl was a barnstorming forward and was top scorer of the Austrian and Belgian leagues in his pomp. He appeared for the Austrian national team four times between 1975 and 1978.
When his playing career came to a close in the mid-1980s, Riedl quickly turned his attention to coaching. While his stint as Austria Manager in the early 1990s might not be remembered by his fellow countrymen (Austria failed to qualify for Euro 92) that failure propelled him to new heights abroad.
Alfred Riedl took the helm at Zamalek (Egypt), Olympique de Khoubriga (Morocco) and Al-Salmiya (Kuwait). In the first decade of this century he began taking posts with Asian national teams and won plaudits for his work with Vietnam and Indonesia over multiple stints.
In 2004, Alfred Riedl was hired to lead a Palestine team in transition. Former manager, Nicola Hadwa had introduced talented players from the South American diaspora but despite the added flair, Al-Fida’i failed to win a game during his tenure (0-5-5).
Riedl’s tenure started off with Palestine recording their largest ever win in a 2006 World Cup qualifier- a record that lasts to this day. Following the 8-0 thrashing of Chinese Taipei, Palestine drew with Iraq 1-1 to go top of their World Cup qualifying group.
In his brief tenure as Palestine Manager, Riedl successfully navigated the challenges of coaching a team that could not play on home soil and one that could not draw upon players playing in a domestic league. Under the Austrian’s tutelage Palestine hit an all time high in the FIFA Ranking (115). His journey with the national team is beautifully chronicled in the 2006 Documentary Goal Dreams.
While the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign did not end in glory for Palestine it marked the best period in Palestinian football until Asian Cup qualification was achieved a decade later.
Football Palestine would like to extend our condolences to Alfred Riedl’s family during this trying time. RIP.