AL AIN // As the senior squad travelled to Beirut yesterday for Tuesday's World Cup qualifying match with Lebanon, journalists and fans were left to guess at which players failed to train during a three-week break away from the national team.
Srecko Katanec, the UAE coach, suggested that the inactivity of some of his players, from a period after a match at India on July 27 until the resumption of national-team training on August 20, was a factor in the damaging 3-2 loss to Kuwait in Al Ain on Friday night.
Katanec said that players in his 25-man squad, including some among the first XI, did not train with their clubs during the three-week break, as he thought they would, and were not fully fit for the match with Kuwait.
"Some of our players were home; they do nothing. They do not play for their clubs," he said. "What can I do when conditions are like this?"
He declined to name any of the players to whom he was referring, suggesting that close scrutiny of the game, which Kuwait led 3-0 until the final 10 minutes, should have been enough to identify those who were sitting at home for three weeks. He singled out only one player for praise, the midfielder Ismail Al Hammadi, who scored a goal.
Katanec also disputed the contention that success by the UAE's Olympic (Under 23) team, eight of whose members are with the national team, should translate to senior-team results.
"Look, the Olympic team is the Olympic team. That is one level. This is another level," he said. "I don't want to talk to compare these two levels. No way; these are two different levels."
Lebanon were defeated 6-0 by South Korea on Friday, and a victory in Beirut would seem to be mandatory for the UAE if they hope to finish in the top two of Group B play and, thus, advance to the final stages of Asia qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
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