Dubai: Shabab Al Ahli Dubai coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena sounded a wake-up call on his team after they crashed to their first defeat of the season at the end of the round action in the Arabian Gulf Cup over the weekend.
Visiting Al Dhafrah scored on either side of half-time through Mohammad Saif Rashid (32nd minute) and Joao Pedro Pereira dos Santos (88th) to hand the defending champions their first loss of the season and join them and former champions Al Ain at the top of Group A with seven points apiece.
Arruabarrena, who had a sure penalty disallowed after playmaker Leonardo was brought down inside the area, was critical of his team’s performance.
“We didn’t play as per our plan and Al Dhafrah deserved this win. They scored from the chances they got while we struggled with our organisation, shape and concentration out there,” Arruabarrena observed.
“We were not aggressive in attacks and we paid the price for this. It’s good that we lost now as this can be a wake-up call for the entire team where nothing can be taken for granted against any team. We need to correct several mistakes, and this can be done if we speak to each other on and off the field,” the Argentine coach added.
The UAE Football Association had decreed that Mohammad Juma and Abdullah Al Nagbi would not be allowed to play for Shabab Al Ahli Dubai this week as they had refrained from joining the UAE national team currently in Bangkok for their 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Thailand later this week. “We can’t make excuses by saying that we didn’t get the points just because these two players were absent,” Arrubarrena observed.
“The truth is that we didn’t play the way we want to and Al Dhafrah stuck to a plan and got the result they wanted. Going forward, we simply need to focus on our mistakes,” he added.
Al Dhafrah are tied with Shabab Al Ahli Dubai and Al Ain at the top of Group A with seven points each, while Al Nasr are in fourth with four points. In Group B, Al Wahda and Fujairah are tied with seven points, while Sharjah — 4-0 winners against Al Wasl — are third with six and Bani Yas with five points.
Fujairah 1 Hatta 0
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 0 Al Dhafrah 2
Sharjah 4 Al Wasl 0
Al Ain 3 Al Nasr 1
Bani Yas 3 Ajman 3
Khor Fakkan 0 Kalba 0