UAE Olympic boss Mahdi Ali top of the list for senior national team job

The UAE Football Association president said the Under-23 boss was his preference to take over as head coach following the failed 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign
UAE Football Association president Yousef Al Serkal says he wants Olympic coach Mahdi Ali to become the senior national team coach.

Ali has been the chief of UAE's efforts at the 2012 London Olympics where they've impressed many onlookers with their football, but lost both games to bow out in the group stage.

However, Al Serkal told The National he wants Ali to get the national team job, which has been occupied on an interim basis by Abdullah Misfir since September's decision to sack Srecko Katanec after a poor start to the 2014 World Cup qualifying which ultimately saw the side crash out in the third round.

"We need to have a coach as soon as possible and we are waiting for Mahdi to finish," Al Serkal said. "Our first choice will be to negotiate a contract with Mahdi."

He added: "We've had this in mind for quite some time, but we did not want to negotiate a contract before the start of the Olympic tournament.

"We did not want to distract him and to interrupt his focus by negotiating until he was finished, and now he is nearly finished."

Some UAE journalists have claimed the UAE needs a high-profile national team coach with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger floated, but Al Serkal said that didn't need to be the case.

"This is normal. Some people will be satisfied with the decision and some won't. Some will think our team deserves a famous name, someone with a big record," he said.

Al Serkal reiterated there was no official agreement yet but said he would take the job if he was in Ali's shoes.

"I haven't spoken to him directly, but if I was in his place I would take the job and be the first Emirati to be head coach of the first national team and take the adventure. I wouldn't reject it if it were offered," he said.

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