x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Cosmin Olaroiu defends keeper after thrashing

Quique Sanchez Flores calls for Al Ahli not to get carried away after 'just one game'

Dawoud Sulaiman, the Al Ain goalkeeper, centre, had a very poor game between the sticks against Al Ahli on Sunday.
Dawoud Sulaiman, the Al Ain goalkeeper, centre, had a very poor game between the sticks against Al Ahli on Sunday.

AL AIN // The shock score line resounded around the Pro League and launched hours of gleeful exclamations on social media by Al Ahli supporters.

Ahli 6, Al Ain 3.

Grafite, Ahli's Brazilian striker, scored as many goals, four, in 90 minutes at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium, as the champions conceded in 11 home league matches last term.

The six goals conceded represented Al Ain's worst defensive performance since the top flight was professionalised in 2008.

Cosmin Olaroiu, the home team's coach, would not rule out, six days after winning the Super Cup, complacency among his side and his goalkeeper, Dawoud Suleiman, who had a nightmare game.

"Dawoud is still a young goalkeeper and he might still be intoxicated by the last match victory; he might still need more experience in controlling victory intoxication.

"In the end, he is not the only reason of this loss, however. I can't assure that Super Cup intoxication is still prevailing in players' souls.

"But I assure that enthusiasm, fight spirit and concentration that we had in previous matches were not available as they should be."

Quique Sanchez Flores, the Spaniard who took over the Ahli side last November, was eager to tamp down expectations after the victory.

"In football everything is possible, but this is just one game and it just turned out to be a good one and a good start for us," Sanchez Flores said. "It is a very good result for the morale of the players but we must not get carried away with this one game. The season has just begun and we must play consistently throughout it. This is very important."

It was Ahli's sixth consecutive league victory, going back to last season, and Sanchez Flores was happy with the way his players came back from a 2-1 half-time deficit to net five second-half goals.

Grafite's haul of four goals represented a personal high. Basheer Saeed and Luis Antonio Jimenez also scored for the Dubai club.

Grafite, the 2009 Bundesliga Golden Boot winner, walked away with the match ball, saying: "I am taking this with me as a souvenir because this is the first time I have scored four goals in a match."

Sanchez Flores acknowledged Grafite's contribution yet he attributed "a good team effort" to the end result.

"The first half was balanced. We played different after the break to score quick goals. We mixed a lot of concepts in the second half and that can make us a better team," Sanchez Flores said.

He has a side little changed from the club that started poorly last term, including a 4-0 beating at the hands of Al Jazira to open the season. "It is the same players and they improved as the season progressed," he said. "It is a continuation of the work that is showing good results."

Al Ain ended with 10 players after Mirel Radoi was sent off with a straight red card for stamping on Amir Mubarak.

The Romanian midfielder has to wait for the decision of the Football Association Disciplinary Committee on the number of games he will miss. Olaroiu suggested the heavy defeat might aid the 10-time champions. "This is a big lesson and we should learn it quickly; it is good it happened early. We can learn from the mistakes."


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