League chief says Al Ahli must do better

The Dubai side were soundly beaten by Oceania's amateur champions Auckland City in the Club World Cup's opening match - a play-off match for a quarter-final place.

DUBAI // Tariq al Tayer, the Football League chairman, has added his voice to the chorus of disapproval over Al Ahli's Club World Cup embarrassment by insisting the Pro League champions were "unprepared" for last month's Fifa showpiece. The Dubai side were soundly beaten by Oceania's amateur champions Auckland City in the competition's opening match - a play-off match for a quarter-final place. Al Tayer, a panel speaker at yesterday's Fourth Dubai International Sports Conference, lamented the 2-0 loss as a missed opportunity for a domestic club to put itself on the international football map.

"We were extremely disappointed by the performance of Al Ahli in the Club World Cup. We had high hopes for them," said al Tayer. "There was a lot of trust because of their excellent league performances last season. But they lacked preparation and, as the local representatives, did not take the tournament seriously. I believe they did not equip themselves for a professional tournament with leading international players."

With caretaker manager Mahdi Ali's stepping down last week, Ahli are now searching for their fourth coach in six months. But al Tayer dismissed the club's changes in personnel as an excuse for their humbling. "Changing coaches will inevitably affect players but an organisation should not depend on one man," he said. Under the Club World Cup format, this year's Pro League champions will again earn the chance to compete against the champions of the six continental confederations in Abu Dhabi in December. And al Tayer, who ruled out the possibility that the league would organise glamour friendlies to boost the UAE entrant's preparations, was adamant that whichever side represents the UAE will handle their task better than Ahli.

"We will always do whatever is in our power to help but we will not interfere in a club's preparations for the tournament," said al Tayer. "The club's management should be aware of the importance of representing the UAE and hopefully they will have learned the lesson from Ahli's experience." @Email:emegson@thenational.ae

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