JEDDAH — Al-Ahli Jeddah’s players refused to celebrate winning the Saudi Arabian First Division title on Monday at the request of fans, Al-Ahli President Walid Moaz said, after their first ever season out of the top tier.
Moaz also apologised to their fans for their poor performance in the previous season. His apology was wrapped in love and gratitude to the fans of his club, for any moment of sadness, anger or hardship, caused by the crisis that the team was exposed to during the current season when it was relegated to the first division.
Moaz expressed his pride over belonging to one of the oldest and most distinguished sports institutions in the Kingdom. “We assure our dear fans that we appreciate your exceptional love and support, which is not surprising, hoping that today will be the beginning of the road to restore the smile on these generous faces full of pride,” Moaz said in a statement.
Moaz said that the club is honored to humbly offer this apology, expressing hope that this will be the first step towards achieving more achievements and successes in the future. “We stand by the fans, and pledge to provide all support and assistance to the players and the technical and administrative staff,” he added.
Meanwhile, Al-Ahli captain Yasser Al-Mosailem received the Yelo First Division League shield after a goalless draw away at Al-Hazm Club stadium in Al-Rass and went in silence to his team mates to have a photo with medals before leaving the stadium without celebrating their return to the Saudi Professional League.
Moaz made it clear in comments to Saudi TV that they view the first-division championship as beneath them. “We participated in this league in an exceptional circumstance but thanks to God, in the end we returned to our normal place. It is clear in history where Al-Ahli's natural place is ... and for this reason, unfortunately, they are unable to be happy, and we got this request and we respected our fans’ opinions.”
The club’s South African coach Mosimane did not agree and was angry when his players left the stadium and insisted on taking the shield to celebrate while taking photos with his staff. Many others also criticized the Al-Ahli players’ behaviour, describing it as a lack of respect to the championship. Al-Ahli's arch-rivals and neighbours Al-Ittihad clinched the top division Pro League title on Sunday. Al-Ahli had won three top-division league titles before.
Al-Ahli’s quest to secure promotion back to the Saudi Pro League was crowned with success recently when it sealed a win over Hager 2-1 after facing their first-ever relegation at the end of the last season. The victory raised Al-Ahli’s points tally to 65, putting it on top of the Saudi First Division. Al-Ahli was one of the four founding members of the SPL and had never been relegated from the top flight until the 2021–22 season.
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