Dubai: Al Wasl’s over-dependence on Lucas Neill was slammed by coach Bruno Metsu after losing 4-0 to Al Dhafra at home, without the defender, in the Etisalat Cup on Wednesday.
The centre back is currently on national team duty with Australia in Qatar as the Socceroos prepare for next Tuesday’s World Cup qualifying match with Iraq in Doha.
Despite fielding Mariano Donda, Shikabala and Emiliano Alfaro, Al Wasl couldn’t dominate in Neill’s absence, conceding a hat-trick from Makhete Diop, with Mohammad Bandar scoring before the Senegalese striker’s third.
“Lucas Neill is a majorly important player,” said Metsu. “Everyone talks about Alfaro, Shikabala and Donda but Lucas is the most important player in our team.
“When I arrived at Al Wasl I said: ‘We need one leader, one central defender’, I chose Lucas. When you play without him it’s not the same side because he drives and pushes the team,” Metsu added.
“We play zonal and to play a good zonal defence, you need a good leader to move. It’s the same with a car. If you’re not a good driver, sometimes your car will go off the road.”
Metsu added: “Lucas is a good driver for the team. He’s got 86 caps for his national team and he’s the Socceroos captain. He’s not a small player. Of course he’s not fast, but he has fantastic mentality and is a good example.
“He drives the team and when the team is alone, you see mistakes — when Lucas doesn’t play its really difficult.”
“Overall, it was a very bad performance and everyone is to blame. I think we should refund the crowd that was in attendance because it was dismal. The players were not motivated, there was no seriousness, they had a losing mentality and — all-in-all — it was a very weak performance.”
Al Dhafra coach Dzemel Hadziabdic, whose side was recovering from last week’s 7-0 league defeat to Al Ain, said: “I’m shocked because Al Wasl is a very good team. Their players may have come in and perhaps not taken us seriously or been arrogant.
“When we play bigger clubs everybody treats us as if we’re small. But, no. We’re a strong team and many clubs will have headaches against us. We actually have so many experienced players in our team from bigger clubs.”
Hadziabdic added: “I was worried because it’s very difficult to recover from a 7-0 defeat. You never know how the players are going to respond. Sometimes its good if you’ve lost a game as it gives the coach an open mind. Today I’ve maybe found a couple of new players. But Al Wasl are still a good side. This is just a bad day for them.”