DUBAI (Reuters) – United Arab Emirates boss Mahdi Ali hammered stay away fans and bemoaned losing out in a club-versus-country row as his side’s three-year unbeaten home run ended with an emphatic 4-0 defeat by fellow Asian Cup finalists Uzbekistan.
Ali made five changes to the side that had drawn 0-0 with Asian Cup hosts Australia on Friday for the friendly in Dubai on Tuesday but his replacements fell way short of the mark.
The former UAE international, not known for making so many changes, said his line-up had been influenced by local clubs.
“The players are under pressure from their clubs because the league resumes in three days and they are thinking of those matches more than the national team’s friendly,” the coach was quoted as saying by local media.
“It is also shameful the national team doesn’t have any home support from the fans for home games. When we arrive at the stadium, we find a few fans and that gives the feeling that we are in a strange country.
“There is no support from our own fans, so how will the players be motivated? The other day, the Australians had more support than us in the stadium. I’d rather not play any games at home but outside the country. It is really disappointing.”
The loss was just the third of Ali’s reign, which began in 2012 after he led the under-23 team at the London Olympics, and first for the UAE at home since a 2-0 defeat by South Korea in a World Cup qualifier in 2011.
Timur Kapadze, Server Djeparov and substitute Navruz Alimov scored the goals for the Uzbeks with a Mohammed Ahmed Gharib own goal completing the rout.
“The entire team was not good today,” Ali said. “All of them under-performed. Of course we had many players sitting out from this game for various reasons, but we made too many mistakes.”
The UAE will begin the defence of their Gulf Cup of Nations title in Saudi Arabia next month before joining Uzbekistan in Australia for the Asian Cup in January.