Dubai: Diego Maradona-less Fujairah won promotion to the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) via the play-offs with a 3-1 aggregate win over Hatta on Sunday.
Despite having sacked coach Maradona after failing to secure automatic promotion — and then causing a commotion by trying to persuade the Argentine back in time for the play-offs — the team somehow still went up.
Omar Kossoko’s 94th minute strike sealed Fujairah’s 1-0 second leg win at Hatta on Sunday. It followed a 2-1 first leg win at home for the Wolves on Wednesday.
In the other play-off, Emirates held on for a goalless draw away to Al Hamriyah in Sunday’s second leg, after having edged their first leg home opener 1-0 on Wednesday.
The AGL returns to 14 teams next season after having dropped to 12 last season on account of clubs being merged.
Al Shabab, Al Ahli and Dubai Club merged to become Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club and Sharjah and Al Shaab combined to become Sharjah Sports and Cultural Club.
Because of the need to find two more teams to go up to the top flight with second division promoted sides Bani Yas, who won the second tier, and Kalba, who finished second, play-offs were held between the two AGL relegated sides Emirates and Hatta, and the second tier’s third and fourth-placed finishers Fujairah and Al Hamriyah.