x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

FA have made the right call in choosing Mahdi Ali for national coach

Given the nation's long history of seeking foreign aid in the running of their football teams, it is also a bold decision.

Mahdi Ali is in line to coach the UAE senior team after London 2012. Eddie Keogh / Reuters
Mahdi Ali is in line to coach the UAE senior team after London 2012. Eddie Keogh / Reuters

Promoting Mahdi Ali to the role of senior national coach is the correct move, but given the nation's long history of seeking foreign aid in the running of their football teams, it is also a bold one by the Football Association.

From Carlos Alberto Parreira in the 1980s down through the years, the UAE have begun each World Cup cycle by scouring the planet for an expatriate with World Cup credentials, including Antoni Piechniczek, Roy Hodgson, Dick Advocaat, Bruno Metso and Srecko Katanec.

It was Parreira who put in motion the plan that led to the 1990 World Cup, and the pattern was set.

Mahdi Ali did not play in Italy 1990, but he would have, except for injury. And now he has led the UAE's most promising age-group side in two decades to the Olympics and returns from London 2012 with a point and several memorable moments.

To ponder his choices in the first XI or in the side is to wonder what else he might have done.

To consider the UAE scored three goals in England while the 2011 Asian Cup team scored zero in Doha demonstrates that he has a mind for attacking football that makes the Emiratis more fun for supporters and more dangerous to opponents.

His intimate knowledge of the young men who will form the senior team also cannot be discounted; he has been with many of them since they were 16. Their love and respect for him was evident during a very intense training camp ahead of London.

Mahdi Ali's teams have earned results and enthralled a nation, and he has shown the management skills to warrant a chance at the top job.