x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Quique Sanchez Flores finds no defence for Al Ahli at Al Nasr

The Spaniard finds his defence breached four times by Walter Zenga's men.

Al Nasr’s Helal Saeed, right, takes the ball from Al Ahli’s Ismael Al Hamadi.
Al Nasr’s Helal Saeed, right, takes the ball from Al Ahli’s Ismael Al Hamadi.

DUBAI // If the standard of football in last night's Dubai derby in the Pro League was anywhere near commensurate with the quality of clientele beyond the sidelines, then it really should have been the only show in town.

In the home dugout was Walter Zenga, formerly the custodian for Italy's national team, while opposing him was Quique Sanchez Flores, latterly of Atletico Madrid and once a player for their more celebrated city rivals, Real.

Watching on from the stands were Fabio Cannavaro and Roy Aitken, all 193 international caps worth of knowledge between them.

Football people of great standing they all may be.

However, while they can take the Arabian thoroughbreds who are now under their supervision to water, the imported stars still cannot force them to drink, apparently.

Each of these sides came into this game in the lower reaches of the UAE's top league.

On this evidence, Nasr can be optimistic of climbing the ladder, while Ahli are no nearer to finding answers.

Sanchez Flores, Ahli's manager, acknowledged he knew nothing of the standard of football in this country before he arrived in an emergency earlier this month.

Judging by his first two matches, both lost against the same opposition, he will probably be looking for an advance on his return ticket back to Spain.

The opening goal, scored by Careca, the Nasr striker, was a lone highlight amid the desolate first-half fare.

He met an appetising Mark Bresciano free kick with a powerful header into the corner.

Sanchez Flores, a former defender of repute in Europe, will have cringed at the second goal, which Khalid Mohammed, the centre-back, and Yousef Abdullah, the Ahli goalkeeper, contrived to gift Nasr.

Humaid Abdullah Abbas will never score an easier one.

Nothing went right for the away side. It reached a nadir at the end of the first half when Ismael Al Hammadi, their best attacking threat for most of the game, made to return possession to Nasr after an injury stoppage, by kicking the ball into touch five yards away. He missed.

Yunus Ahmed Abdullah, a second-half substitute for Nasr, profited from more supine Ahli defending with their third goal after the break.

Bresciano was granted due reward for his midfield industry, alongside Leonardo Lima, when he scored the fourth.

Despite his side's dominance, Zenga, was inexplicably uptight, and was sent off for his part in a late melee.

By rights, it should have been Sanchez Flores who succumbed to anger over his side's display.

However, with the points gone, all he could muster was a phlegmatic shrug which seemed to say, "How am I going to handle six more months of this?"