x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Al Ain's Cosmin Olaroiu criticises referees after President's Cup loss

Manager unhappy after semi-final exit but captain Helal Saeed plays down skirmishes with Al Ahli players. Amith Passela reports

Al Ain manager Cosmin Olaroiu, in the grey shirt, has to be restrained by team officials and security while clashing with referees at the conclusion of his team's 2-1 loss to Al Ahli on Sunday. Al Ittihad
Al Ain manager Cosmin Olaroiu, in the grey shirt, has to be restrained by team officials and security while clashing with referees at the conclusion of his team's 2-1 loss to Al Ahli on Sunday. Al Ittihad
ABU DHABI // Cosmin Olaroiu blamed poor refereeing for Al Ain's loss to Al Ahli in the President's Cup semi-final Sunday night.

Mohammed Ahmed, the Al Ain defender, was sent off on the hour for two yellow cards and Omar Abdulrahman, the diminutive midfielder, joined him in added time for arguing.

"If this is the way to play, to give a yellow card to every defender, then afterwards it is difficult for them to play," the Romanian coach said. "Even if they make only a small mistake, they are given a red card. It's normal, but I expected this, for me, it is not a surprise.

"When we are 2-0 down and a player is sent off, it becomes so difficult to get back in the game.

"We tried hard and scored a goal and created several chances in the second half. But it was very difficult against a team like Ahli when you have to play one player short.

"In the second half, we had chances, we dominated, we did everything, but we didn't have the same spirit in the first half."

Helal Saeed, the Al Ain captain, said the two first-half goals made all the difference.

"We conceded two goals from the set pieces," he said. "You just can't do that against a good team. We were punished for our mistakes.

"Of course, we did well to keep the game alive until the end, but it was always going to be a very hard task to come back, particularly after one of our players were sent off."

With an agitated Olaroiu needing to be restrained from approaching the game officials by security personnel, Saeed moved to play down skirmishes between rival players at the end of the match, saying these things often happen in the heat of the moment.

"The game was played in high intensity and it got a bit out of hand towards the end," he said. "This is not unusual in such games where everyone on the pitch as well as those outside are charged up."

apassela@thenational.ae

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