Mahdi Ali, who this year guided the United Arab Emirates to its first Olympics appearance in football, has been hired to coach the country's senior national team.
UAE Football Association President Yousuf al-Sarkal said Ali signed a contract Thursday. He was one of three candidates and al-Sarkal would only say that football legend Diego Maradona was not among them. Maradona, who was fired this summer from a Dubai club, was talked up as a viable choice.
The first Emirati to hold the permanent post, Ali has time to mold a team. The UAE was already eliminated from qualifying for the 2014 World Cup so Ali is expected to turn to his Olympic players in a bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Its only World Cup appearance was in 1990.