Esperance coach Mouine Chaabani has slammed his players following the 3-0 defeat to United Arab Emirates champions Al Ain on Saturday.
Mohamed Ahmed, Egyptian midfielder Hussein El Shahat and and Bandar Mohammed scored for Al Ain to sink the Tunisians.
The heavy defeat angered Chaabani who placed blame on his players.
“It’s a very disappointing and humiliating result, especially when you lose 3-0 as the CAF champions,” Chaabani was quoted as saying by The National.
“The first goal was the turning point because we lost focus on the pitch from that point. Then 15 minutes later we conceded another goal and it became even harder for us. We faced a big challenge to get back in to the game in the second half and introduced a third striker to open up the game, but we were unlucky.
“It’s not my habit to criticise the players because I always stand by them, but tonight their performance was very disappointing. All the players were thinking individually and not collectively. There are certain periods and certain times we need to play collectively but I didn’t see them doing it."
Angering Chaabani more was the fact that he was impressed that they had left no stone unturned preparing for the Club World Cup as they sought to become the first African side to win it.
“All that work wasn’t recognised on the field by my players tonight” Chaabani said.
“We also warned our players that Al Ain had big character. We watched and observed their performance against Team Wellington where they came from three down to win that game. “We didn’t expect to lose this game and our fans didn’t expect us to lose this game, so it was very disappointing. Yes, the fans were expecting a good result from us and we really wanted to play in the semi-finals."
Esperance now face Central American champions Guadalajara in the fifth-place play-off on Tuesday.
“We have three days to prepare for the next game and we’ll definitely overcome the mental block of losing to Al Ain for some consolation to our reputation and for our fans,” added Chaabani.
The defeat also saw Esperance spurning the prospect of meeting European champions Real Madrid, possibly in the final.