x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Pro League chief hits back at Katanec claims

Carlo Nohra says if anyone is to blame for the UAE national team's goal-shy attack, it is the coach, Sreko Katanec.

DUBAI // Carlo Nohra, the chief executive of the Pro League, has refuted claims by Srecko Katanec after the UAE coach blamed the Emirates' domestic set-up for hindering the success of the national team.

Katanec told The National before departing for this month's Asian Cup in Qatar that an influx in foreign forwards in the Pro League had resulted in him being forced to "choose our national team strikers from players who start league matches from the bench".

Katanec's claims have been backed up by results as the UAE failed to score in any of their games and suffered the ignominy of finishing bottom of Group D.

However, yesterday Nohra, when asked how he planned to deal with the problem, dismissed responsibility for the UAE's impotent forward-line and suggested if anybody is to blame, it is Katanec.

"First I would have to accept that this is a problem, and I don't," said Nohra, who has been the chief executive of the league since December 2009. "I don't think it's a problem, I think it is a cop out. I think he is purely pointing fingers to cover his own back. Results on football matches are dependent on a number of things, one of which is the tactical set-up the coach chooses to deploy."

Nohra pointed towards other Gulf nations in order to strengthen his argument, citing, among others, Qatar as proof that a league dominated by foreign strikers does not necessarily result in a national team that struggles for goals.

Since losing their opening match of the Asian Cup 2-0, the host nation have scored five goals in their last two games.

"I wouldn't say the current situation is ideal, but it is certainly not special to us," Nohra said. "If we look at the Asian Cup, Jordan are doing well, Syria have done respectably, and Qatar are doing well and I think they all have just as many strikers as we do."