Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 September 2019

‘I did my best’ says Mahdi Ali as UAE football manager resigns after 2018 World Cup qualifier defeat to Australia

The Emirati manager vacates position after nearly five years in charge of senior national team, writes Paul Radley.
UAE manager Mahdi Ali has been in charge since 2012. William West / AFP
UAE manager Mahdi Ali has been in charge since 2012. William West / AFP

SYDNEY // Mahdi Ali has resigned as UAE manager following the national team’s 2-0 loss against Australia.

The coach has been in charge of the senior team for nearly five years, and overseen the development of the nucleus of players for over a decade.

He confirmed he will step down after the defeat at the Sydney Football Stadium, which all but ended the UAE’s chances of reaching next year’s World Cup in Russia.

“For me, I have spent around 13 years with the national team, and five years with the first team,” he said. “We have had so many achievements with the team, we have worked very hard and I think this is the time for me to leave.

Mahdi Ali was in charge when the UAE qualified for the Olympics for the first time, at London 2012. The same core of players saw the national team to Gulf Cup of Nations success in Bahrain the following year.

They also reached the semi-finals of the Asian Cup in 2015, where they lost out, ironically, to the same scoreline to the same opponents – 2-0 against Australia in Newcastle.

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“I tried my best, I did not complain, but now is the time for me to leave,” he said. “Actually I resigned before the Iraq game, but the federation insisted I continue. I stayed. We won the Iraq game and we had a better chance [of qualifying].

“I think, after five years, I did my best. We have had so many achievements, winning the Gulf Cup and qualifying to the third round of the World Cup [qualifiers].

“Given the conditions we have, I don’t think we can achieve better than that.

“It is a very bad moment for me. I wish I could leave the national team in a better condition. But this is life. We have to accept it.

“For me, it is very hard, but I tried my best. I think the coach is only one part of the team, there are so many other parts which help the coach.

“I apologise to all the UAE fans, the leaders, the players, the staff, I thank them all. This is the time for me to leave.”

pradley@thenational.ae

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Updated: March 28, 2017 04:00 AM

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