Ali: It’s my duty to serve my country

Can Buriram United take any positives from ACL 2019 disappointment?

Ali's spirited comments come after negotiations to extend his contract "didn't take more than a minute". 

Ali enjoyed a lot of success during his playing career as he led the UAE to the Olympics, a Gulf Cup championship and third place in the Asian Cup. Having hung up his boots, Ali is now using his coaching skills to make his country proud. 

"As an Emirati, it’s my duty to serve my country," he told The National. "It’s a big responsibility and a new stage starting with the World Cup.

"Everyone has been talking about the 2019 Asian Cup but we cannot forget the World Cup qualifiers. The ambitions are bigger now and so are the responsibility."

Since Ali has become a household name in the region, he has received a lot of offers from other clubs and teams. But, he insisted that he remains committed to helping his own country, especially since the UAE FA consider him to be "family".

"Technically, this is a renewal of the contract but I prefer to call it a continuation," UAE FA president Yousef Al Serkal said. "A lot of Gulf FAs have been in touch asking to look at our technical programmes, which Mahdi Ali has been a big part of, especially with this group of players."