SANDRA AIGNER / AIPS* in ABU DHABI: The coach of hosts UAE shouldered all the blame for their first-round exit from ‘their’ FIFA U-17 World Cup in the wake of a conclusive 2-0 defeat by Slovakia at the end of Group A competition.
Rashed Albedwawi indicated that he expected to be replaced and he completed an unhappy evening by offering an apology for his allegations earlier in the tournament about over-age players.
Addressing the tournament in general, he said: “We gained lot of experience in this tournament. My players came in contact with players from other countries so now they know what to expect in future.
“We tried our best, we have trained hard and all the supporters did their best. I am taking the blame on myself. This is my mistake alone. I am the ‘owner’ of this blame. I had chosen the players, I had trained them and I was supposed to do everything. I was not lucky with that.
“We have few good players, who can later join the youth team, the U-19. If they are good enough they will be chosen by another coach.”
As for his earlier allegations that 70pc of the players in the tournament were over age he made a U-turn, saying: “I apologise for that. As the host country, we want championships that are fine, without any trouble.”
Slovak coach Ladislav Pecko thought his team had been the better side throughout the game even after having a player sent off just before half-time.
He said: “We created a lot of chances and also in the second half we were mentally strong. Now we will make two free days for the guys. On Friday maybe we will start the next preparations. We want to see another city of this country, because it is a beautiful country.
“It was good that there was half-time just after the red card. Then we could talk about the situation in the dressing room. Even in the second half we were more dangerous. We showed our power.
“Every winning match is making us happy. We will be even happier if we are qualified for the next round.”