x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pro League: Marsiglia's men at Dubai are at a loss after Al Ahli drubbing

The Dubai coach blames lack of motivation for his team's declining performance, while Al Ahli's Quique Sanchez Flores is not thinking about the title race.

Rene Marsiglia is struggling to put his team on the right path as they have conceded 18 goals in four games. Pawan Singh / The National
Rene Marsiglia is struggling to put his team on the right path as they have conceded 18 goals in four games. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Rene Marsiglia believes a lack of motivation in his squad is the reason for Dubai's current slump in form as his lower mid-table team have little to play for.

Beating the drop last season courtesy of a late surge that resulted in nine points acquired from their last four games, Dubai had made a good start to the 2012/13 campaign, accumulating 16 points in the first half of the league season.

A 2-1 win at Al Wahda was the highlight of their first 13 matches. They also managed to split points with top sides Al Jazira, Al Nasr and Al Ahli.

The second half of the season, however, has been far less productive with just the lone win, over Al Shaab, in five matches.

Dubai have now lost four games on the trot, including a 6-3 defeat to Al Ahli at home on Friday night, and they have conceded 18 goals in those games; in the first 13 matches, they conceded 21.

Marsiglia has been struggling to understand the reasons for their slump but the Frenchman now believes the problem is psychological.

"When you are down [in the relegation zone], you are fighting to survive and want to win every match, every point," said the Dubai coach, who described the Ahli loss as a "dark night".

"When you are one, two or three, you are playing to keep your position [at the top] or improve it.

"But when you are in a position like we are, in the middle of the table, it is very difficult to have motivation. I believe this is the main reason [for Dubai's slump in form] - not the only reason, but one of the explanations that I can find.

"What do the team play for? There is no target. Look at Dibba [Al Fujairah], Kalba or Al Shaab; they want to keep their place in the Pro League for next season. If you are Baniyas or Al Ahli, you are playing for the first, second or third place.

"So my team needs to find a new motivation and I am working hard to change our situation."

Ahli, as Marsiglia said, are facing no such issues. Al Ain, the leaders, have all but sealed the fate of the Pro League title, but Quique Sanchez Flores's side, currently third in the table, 10 points behind Al Ain, are chasing a spot in next season's Asian Champions League.

The Ahli coach was obviously happy with the three points procured against Dubai, with Grafite scoring his fourth hat-trick in the league this season to take his tally to 23 goals and close the gap on leading scorer Asamoah Gyan to one.

"Within the team, we only talk about the next game," Sanchez Flores said. "We try to play every match at the best possible level and get the result that is best for the team. We never look beyond the next match and this is our strategy.

"If we compare this season with the last, we have 15 or 16 points more than what we had last season [22 points from 18 matches] from the same number of games. This is a clear sign that we are improving and reaching a higher level.

"For us this is the most important thing - we are able to compete, we try to play well and we try to win. Right through this season, we have been in the top three or four, a position that we never managed to reach at any moment in the last season.

"So the important thing is to keep this going and bring consistency in our performance."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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