football

Mahdi Ali: I have nothing to prove to anyone

Former UAE coach says his challenge now lies in getting his club to win matches in AGL

14:26 December 7, 2017

Dubai: Mahdi Ali has nothing left to prove, be it for himself or for anyone else who dares him.

That was the message the former UAE national team coach delivered while coming face to face with local media for the first time since being announced as the replacement for Cosmin Olaroiu at Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, last Saturday.

“After being in the coaching field for 16 years, I doubt I need to prove anything, either for myself or for anyone else,” Ali told media when asked about his priorities in his new assignment.

“In my career as a coach, I have done everything that was there to do. There is nothing more to prove,” he added.

Ali was announced as the replacement for Olaroiu after the 48-year-old much-loved Romanian coach left by mutual consent with the club’s board of directors. Olaroiu had been distraught following a sixth successive draw by the newly-forged Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club on Friday. Reportedly, following a lengthy meeting with the board of directors on Saturday morning, Olaroiu put in his papers paving the way for Ali to be announced as the new coach.

Ali is not new to coaching at club level, having previously done so with Shabab Al Ahli Dubai in 2009, followed by a second stint with Bani Yas in 2011. His first match will be against leaders Al Wasl on Friday night, something that he sees as any other match.

“I have come to Shabab Al Ahli Dubai as I know the club needs me. This is a good team and it hurts to see them where they are in the standings. They deserve to be in a better position,” the new coach said.

The six successive draws, a record of sorts in the Arabian Gulf League (AGL), has put Shabab Al Ahli Dubai in fifth place with 15 points and seven adrift of leaders and this week’s opponents Al Wasl. But Ali is keenly looking at the bigger picture.

“It is always good to have a fresh challenge as this can keep me motivated to fight for the ultimate goal of winning a league title. It is the same for a coach or for a player. There are days for instance when [Cristiano] Ronaldo may not have a good game. But that doesn’t mean he is not a good player. The same thing applies to a team. Shabab Al Ahli Dubai may not be winning, and that doesn’t mean the team is not good,” he quipped.

“All this is part of the game. And we should also remember that there are other teams who are also fighting for wins. So my job now is to see how we can start winning and be among the contenders for the title, and therein lies my new challenge,” he added.