2018 World Cup qualifying: Mahdi Ali resigns as UAE’s World Cup dream ends with defeat to Australia

Mapping the road ahead as UAE seek qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Illustration: Kevin Jeffers / The National
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Mahdi Ali has resigned as UAE manager following the national team’s 2-0 loss against Australia on Tuesday, March 28.

The manager has been in charge of the senior team for nearly five years, and overseen the development of the nucleus of players for over a decade.

He confirmed he will step down after the defeat at the Sydney Football Stadium, which all but ended the UAE’s chances of reaching next year’s World Cup in Russia.

The loss means the national team now trail the Australians by four points. With Saudi Arabia and Japan also above them in Group B, and just three games remaining, a route to qualification appears blocked for the national team.


Here is a schedule and results of Group B. All times are in Gulf Standard Time. More information can be found at fifa.com.



Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Sydney, Australia, 1pm

■ Analysis: Mahdi Ali can leave with his head held high

■ 'I did my best': Mahdi Ali resigns after five years in charge

■ Report: Australia too strong for injury-hampered UAE

■ Mahdi Ali: UAE manager backs Omar Abdulrahman to bounce back

■ Key battles: Mark Milligan can provide inside knowledge

■ Ange Postecoglou: Australia manager 'expecting a tough game'

■ It's just not cricket: UAE's quaint training facilities



Thursday, March 23, 2017, Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain, 7.30pm

■ Report: Japan too strong in revenge result

■ Analysis: UAE's hopes diminish in loss

■ Reaction: Mahdi Ali focused on Australia, not his future



■ AUSTRALIA v UAE: Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Sydney, Australia, 1pm

■ THAILAND v UAE: Tuesday, June 13, 2017, Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand, 3pm

■ UAE v SAUDI ARABIA: Thursday, August 31, 2017, Venue and time TBD

■ IRAQ v UAE: Tuesday, September 5, 2017, Venue and time TBD

* Note: Iraq are playing their home matches in Iran due to Iraq’s ongoing civil war, except for their home match with Saudi Arabia, which will be played in Malaysia.


FIRST-LEG results

Japan 1-2 UAE

Thursday September 1, 2016

Saitama Stadium in Saitama, Japan

'Mabrouk, mabrouk': First World Cup step boldly taken, now focus moves to second

Ahmed Khalil: UAE goal hero urges fans to show support for Australia match

Khalid Essa: On Japan's 'ghost goal'

Controversy: Japan FA lodge protest over disallowed goal

Reaction: 'It's only one step from 10'

Analysis: UAE's road to Russia 2018 off to a flyer

Match report | In pictures

Five things we learnt: Khalil a big-game player


UAE 0-1 Australia

Tuesday September 6, 2016

Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Report: Australia's Tim Cahill breaks UAE hearts

Analysis: UAE's road to Russia hits a dent, but dream is far from over

In pictures: UAE 0 Australia 1

Takeaways: Five areas for UAE to ponder before next qualifiers


UAE 3-1 Thailand

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

■ Report: It was tense and tight, but UAE accomplished their goal

In pictures

■ Comment: Mahdi Ali not overlooking Thailand

■ See also: Thailand scouting report


Saudi Arabia 3-0 UAE

Tuesday, October 11, 2016, 9.45pm

King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

■ Report: UAE's hopes take huge hit in Saudi Arabia

In pictures

■ Ahmed Khalil: UAE 'will fight for every game, every point' to reach 2018 World Cup



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

■ Report: UAE back on track after win over Iraq

■ Mahdi Ali: National team manager on his future with club


Stick with The National for complete coverage of the UAE's road to Russia.

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