Manama: Qatar coach Paulo Autouri launched a scathing attack on the mentality of Gulf football after his side’s 2-1 win over Oman at the Bahrain National Stadium on Tuesday.
Visibly relieved having recovered from their opening Group A loss to the UAE 3-1 last Saturday, Autouri entered the post-match conference with a grin having saved his job and the team’s title chances. But smugness soon turned to sincerity as Autouri delivered a message to those who had been so quick to write him off after their opening defeat.
“This is my first experience of the Gulf Cup and I was surprised with how I was made to feel after the first round of the competition,” said Autouri.
“It was as if everything was finished after the UAE match but you still have a lot to understand about football.
“Don’t kill jobs that experienced people are doing very well. It’s impossible to look at football in this way and this is the reason you have stopped improving beyond a certain level. This applies to all national teams in the region.”
Autouri, 56, who won the Copa Libertadores and Fifa Club World Cup double with Sao Paulo in 2005, added: “Winning the Gulf Cup means nothing if you can’t sustain progress after the competition. In the same way losing the Gulf Cup doesn’t mean all the hard work is in vain.
“We are always under pressure and this is not football. You have to keep your emotional balance under control in these circumstances and save the jobs that people are working towards very well.”
Autouri, who never had a playing career due to childhood polio, but went on to manage extensively across his native Brazil, Portugal, Japan and Peru before Qatar, said: “It means a lot to my players to know they have a coach who won’t suddenly change his mind on tactics and formation or be under pressure about results after just one game. You need to be sure of what you’re doing. I’m not afraid of losing my job. We needed to find an answer and we had a positive reaction.”
Qatar contained and countered a wasteful Oman who had the better chances and possession. A penalty before the hour by Khalfan Ebrahim was cancelled out by Hussain Al Hadri only for Qatar to break Omani hearts against the run of play with a late tap in from Mohammad Al Sayed.
Autouri was unapologetic though about the three points stolen. “I’ve lost a lot of matches in my life playing creative, attacking football. But I’ve said it after a win or a loss in these same circumstances: football is about being effective and making the most of your chances, however few. Oman knew we were under pressure and would have to come out of our half but football is about strategy and providing the right answers to the situation.”