May 30 (Reuters) - Al-Ahli's players refused to celebrate winning the Saudi Arabian second division title on Monday at the request of fans, the club president said, after their first ever season out of the top tier, in a move that riled their own coach Pitso Mosimane.
Al-Ahli captain Yasser Al-Mosailem received the league shield after a goalless draw away at Al-Hazm and went in silence to his team mates to have a photo with medals before leaving the stadium without celebrating their return to the Pro League.
Club president Walid Moaz made it clear in comments to Saudi TV that they view the second-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," he said.
He added: "It is clear in history where Al-Ahli's natural place is ... and for this reason, unfortunately, they are unable to be happy... We got this request and we respected our fans' opinions."
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 other 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, who have won three top-division league titles before, also apologised to their fans for their previous season.
"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", the club said in a statement.