DUBAI // Al Sharjah coach Yousef Al Zawawi and Al Wasl's Srecko Juricic, despite sharing the spoils, could not have cut more of a contrast as they sat in the Zabeel Stadium press room after Sunday's high-scoring draw. While the upbeat Zawawi laughed and joked in Arabic with journalists, Juricic was clearly a man in distress. He sat grim-faced and motionless, unable to understand what was being said or how a Wasl team that were title-winners in 2006-07 are now languish mid-table, having failed to win their past three games.
"The game was exciting for the supporters, but it was not good for the coaches," said Juricic after watching his side concede a trio of first-half goals to go 3-1 down, before fighting back after the break to lead 4-3, before eventually conceding their second penalty of the game and allowing Sharjah to go home with a point. Saoud Saeed (2), Alexandre Oliviera and Rashid Esa netted for Wasl, with Anderson netting both spot-kicks for Sharjah and Saud Jasem al-douki and Robirto Lopez also on target for Sharjah.
"There were so many defensive mistakes. The result was that neither team could be confident of the final score. "I thought we showed good character to get back into the game from trailing by two goals, but I cannot be satisfied with the team's performance at the back," Juricic admitted. The result sees Wasl stuck in seventh in the Pro League and, although the famous Cheetahs support still turning up in their masses, they are not happy.
"I think the fans have too high expectations," said the Croatian, who took the Wasl reins at the start of October after replacing Miroslav Beranek. "We need time to reach where we were two years ago. "Yes, there are some players here who were also in the title-winning side, but they are older and have perhaps lost motivation. "You cannot compare the two teams and so you cannot have the same expectations."
Wasl's fall from grace has not been sudden, even last year they struggled to compete, eventually finishing seventh, despite being only three points off fourth. "You have examples of this kind of thing from all over the world," continuedJuricic. "The same team cannot compete consistently at the same level. Remember Real Madrid: they were the champions of Europe in 2002, but two years later they weren't even champions of Spain. This is normal."