ABU DHABI // Lack of commitment, discipline and appropriate attitudes from the Emirati players, along with poor attendance levels on the spectators' side, are to blame for a decline in the game's progress in the country , according to Abel Braga, the Al Jazira coach. "I am going on my second season with Jazira and have a good idea of the Emirati football," said the Brazilian. "The players are not fully committed and they have attitude problems. They have been given professional contracts, yet they don't behave like the true professionals.
"They are not willing to work hard because they don't have the hunger. They have the money and enjoy good life styles, and they don't want to improve. They don't even have the desire to play for the national team. "I am really surprised because the UAE has provided them with some of the best facilities even some of the established football nations wouldn't have. "You only have to see players in the African nations, and in some of the poorer countries, how hard they have to work because football provides them a lifeline."
The UAE won just one point from a draw against Iran in their 2010 World Cup qualifying games while none of the Emirates' clubs progressed beyond the group stage in last year's Asian Champions League (ACL) last year. All four teams representing the UAE in the 2010 continental championship suffered defeats in the opening round last week. Braga's side were one of the team's who were beaten on the first night of the ACL, going down to the Qatari league champions Al Gharafa 2-1 at home.
"I don't mind losing matches, but not the way we lost to Gharafa," remarked Braga. "There was severe lack of commitment from my players in that game." Braga's other complaint was the lack of support from the crowd at the games. He said: "It is another critical factor because football is a game played with a lot of passion, and it doesn't do any good for the sport when the game is played in empty stadiums. It is such a shame when the matches can't attract the crowd.
"I am thankful for the small but appreciative fanbase of Jazira but we need to do more to attract the crowds. "I want to contribute to the overall development of the game in the UAE. The potential is there to improve and I am quite fortunate to work for a club who are willing to take the game forward to another level." Braga took Jazira to 32 matches without defeat yet they were knocked out by Al Shabab in the President's Cup semi-finals on penalties and are second in the Pro League, two points behind city rivals Al Wahda.
Braga's men - without their UAE internationals - face Wahda tonight (KO 5.45pm) in the first of the two-legged Etisalat Cup semi-finals at the Al Nahyan Stadium. Al Ain travel to Ajman in the other tie. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org