Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Ismail Hamadi, in white, and his Al Ahli side faced a competitive Dubai on Saturday night. Satish Kumar / The National
Ismail Hamadi, in white, and his Al Ahli side faced a competitive Dubai on Saturday night. Satish Kumar / The National

Arabian Gulf League: Cosmin Olaroiu pleased with Al Ahli’s win, not play

Ahmed Khalil’s injury-time strike helps Al Ahli down a dogged Dubai for a winning start to their Arabian Gulf League campaign.



Al Ahli: Ahmed Khalil 90’+3

Man of the match: Ahmed Mallah (Dubai)

DUBAI // Last season, Al Ahli started their league campaign with a brilliant 6-3 win over defending champions Al Ain.

This time they seemed headed for a goalless start in their Arabian Gulf League opener against Dubai but were rescued by substitute Ahmed Khalil’s stunning free-kick in injury time.

Until then, Ahli had seemed short of firepower with Grafite looking rusty. The Dubai defence, led by Ahmed Mallah, put up a spirited resistance as well, but Khalil’s curling effort from the edge of the box denied them a point they deserved.

“Dubai played a very good game,” said a relieved Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu. “For us, the most important target was to get three points and thank God we got it.

“I am not satisfied about the way we played, but I am happy we got three points – and I am happy that Ahmed scored. It will be really good for his morale and his psychology. I said a few days ago, Ahmed is the sort of player that we need at the top of his confidence.”

While the goal will certainly help Khalil’s confidence, Olaroiu will be hoping also to lift the team’s morale, particularly in attack. In four matches this season in all competitions, Olaroiu’s men have scored only three goals and this was their first win in regulation time. They beat Al Ain in a shoot-out for the Super Cup and drew two League Cup games.

“We have a problem and we have to solve it,” Olaroiu said.

“We will try to fix it. I want the team to score goals and play in a good way. The three points are important but that is not enough – the way we play is also important to me.”

After the 1-1 draw against promoted side Emirates in their previous game in the League Cup, Olaroiu was confident his team would be a lot different after the return of Ahli’s national team players. Majed Naser, Ismail Al Hammadi, Majed Hassan, Abdulaziz Haikal and Abdulaziz Sanqour all made the starting line-up, but Ahli looked far from convincing.

Their clearest opportunity arrived in the 25th minute when Ciel squeezed through a cross for Grafite. The Brazilian had ample time and space but shot straight into the Dubai keeper.

The visitors came close a few more times in the second half but Dubai looked set for a point until the third minute of added time when Khalil, who replaced Hugo Viana in the 67th minute, broke the hearts of the home fans.

“We played a good match, but I am so disappointed we lost in the last minute,” said Martin Rueda, the Dubai coach. “We deserved a point from this game, but I am confident we will continue to play well in the coming matches.”


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National