AL NASR 2, AL SHAAB 1
Al Nasr Toure 49’, Fardan 62’ Al Shaab N’dri 54’
Man of the match Hassan Ameen (Al Nasr)
DUBAI // For all Andre Villas-Boas’s many perceived faults during his ill-fated tenure at Chelsea, one of his greatest misjudgments was deemed to be his inclination to crouch on the touchline during matches.
Not only did it make the previously urbane new kid on the managerial block appear especially nervous, but it spawned a cult line of garments, too.
While it is doubtful that Ivan Jovanovic, Al Nasr’s latest manager, would have even heard of the “Crouching Ginger” label, the silver-haired Serbian nevertheless spent the majority of his side’s victory against Al Shaab last night striking a similar pose.
A nod to his Portuguese counterpart? Think not. Feeling the strain, then? Think again.
“Personally, I like to have pressure and stress in my team,” Jovanovic said. “If you want to achieve something, you have to push yourself. It’s good to feel stress as if you have targets as a team. It helps you move in the right direction.”
Jovanovic may be fresh to the Arabian Gulf League, but in terms of experience, he has been there, got the T-shirt.
A modest CV is provided a certain gloss by starry nights in the Uefa Champions League with Apoel Nicosia, the Cypriot club, and it was that record that convinced Nasr to recruit him in June. A summer of heavy investment has raised expectations at the club, also.
With only Leonardo Lima retained from last season’s foreign contingent, Nasr sought significant improvement in signing Brett Holman, Eder Luis and Ibrahima Toure.
The latter was bought solely to add goals and he responded by netting the opener against Shaab yesterday at the Al Maktoum Stadium. Following a largely forgettable first half, the encounter sparked shortly after the break when Toure stooped to head home a Hassan Ameen free-kick.
It was the Senegalese striker’s third in as many matches.
The lead lasted all of five minutes, though, with Michel N’dri exhibiting a sublime first touch to wrestle free from a Nasr defender before drilling a low shot across Ahmed Shambieh and into the Nasr goal.
It dragged Jovanovic to his feet, the hosts’ coach clearly dismayed by the space given to N’dri.
Jovanovic was soon up again, this time to celebrate Habib Fardan, captain in Lima’s absence, rising highest at Shaab’s far post to nod down past Mutaz Abdullah.
Thiago Quirino tried in vain to hook the ball clear, but it has already crossed the line.
Despite a few knee-knocking moments thereafter – Shambieh made a brilliant point-blank save late on – Nasr stood firm to seal a first victory of the season.
“I’m satisfied with my first win, of course, but first of all for my players,” Jovanovic said.
“We lost the first cup game and also lost our opening league match, so it was very important to start our campaign now with a victory.
“Of course, we had a lot of stress, this was obvious in the game, and that’s why I’m very satisfied with the result. But we have to work a lot to make things better on the pitch.”
AL JAZIRA 2, AL WAS: 3
Al Jazira Mabkhout 37’, Oliveira 48’ Al Wasl Ahmed 02’, Senghor 09’(pen), Hadeed 65’
Red cards Shin 09’, Mousa 29’ (Al Jazira)
Al Wasl heaped the pressure on Luis Milla, the Al Jazira coach, with a pulsating victory at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. Laurent Banide’s men were two goals and two men up inside the first 30 minutes, with Ganim Ahmed and Andre Senghor (above) scoring as Al Jazira had Shin Hyung-Min and Abdullah Mousa sent off. The hosts responded with goals from Ali Mabkhout and Ricardo Oliveira before Fahad Hadeed sealed the win just after the hour.
SHARJAH 1, AL SHABAB 2
Sharjah Gabriel 83’ Al Shabab Faraj 58’, Adeilson 72’
Al Shabab can boast a perfect start to the league season after a fortuitous victory. The Dubai club, having opened their 2013/14 account with a win against Al Ain, took the lead just before the hour when Abdullah Faraj’s powerful free-kick deflected off Fellype Gabriel, the Sharjah captain. Adeilson doubled the visitors’ advantage soon after, with the Brazilian’s shot ricocheting off Shahin Abdulrahman. Gabriel then halved the deficit to set up a frantic final seven minutes.