Dubai — For the UAE head coach Mahdi Ali, preparations for the 2018 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers start from Friday when the wounded lions clash against Iraq for a podium place of the 2015 Australia AFC Asian Cup and potentially crucial ranking points at Newcastle Stadium in Newcastle.
Ali’s only announced promise was to take the squad to the last four, but at the same time he told newsmen before heading Down Under that he has achieved two of his four objectives by qualifying for the 2012 London Games and winning the 2013 Gulf Cup in Bahrain. And after clearing Japan’s hurdle, UAE football boss Yousuf Al Serkal spoke loudly about their legitimate claim to beat hosts Australia and make it into the final, “and to win the trophy, why not?” he had said.
However, the third objective had to be held for another four years, while setting sight on the fourth goal by qualifying to the 2018 Fifa World Cup finals in Russia, before returning to the UAE, the possible venue for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals. However, unconfirmed reports from the UAE Football Association have suggested that the contract of Mahdi Ali has been extended up to 2019 and the two parties have signed the new contract in Australia despite the heartbreaking semi-final defeat by Australia as the hosts posted a 2-0 win to advance to the final… see more