BANIYAS // Ednaldo Patricio, the Kalba coach, said Baniyas are the best team his side have played, one month into the Pro League season. "My team has played against Al Ahli, Sharjah and Al Wahda but Baniyas has impressed me most so far," the Brazilian manager said.
"They play Al Jazira next. I can't say who is going to win, but I can say it's going to be a very, very good game." Andre Senghor scored a hat-trick as Baniyas moved to the top of the league table with a clinical 4-2 demolition of the promoted Sharjah club last night in front of a crowd of 1,275.
Baniyas had made the game safe by half time. Habboush Saleh cut across before curling the ball into the corner of the net for a 10th-minute lead, and Senghor was on target twice for the home side to go into the break 3-0 up. He added a fourth after the interval while Kalba struck twice through Abdullah Baba Fatadi and Ahmed Eissa. Senghor, who was said to have been close to being axed before the transfer window closed 12 days ago, may have cemented his place with a impressive performance.
The tall Senegalese has scored in every game, including a President's Cup match. He has six goals to lead the Pro League scoring chart and had two more in the cup games. He headed in a bouncing ball that was badly misjudged by Mohammed Abdullah, the Kalba goalkeeper, to double his team's lead in the 22nd minute; guided a header off a dipping free kick from Yousef Jaber a minute from the break and completed the hat-trick with a full-blooded shot from the edge of the box. It could have been four for him had he not lost control of possession 12 yards from the goal.
"Senghor has missed on numerous occasions but tonight he knew where the net was, and that's a very positive sign from him," said Lutfi al Benzarti, the Baniyas manager. But he was disappointed his side conceded two late goals, saying: "I told my players at the break that the game wasn't over. But they didn't seem to have got the message. We need to address this before the match against Al Jazira."
Patricio began the second half with a double substitution in midfield. Eissa and Ahmed Dheyaa replaced Ali Ahmed Obaid and Yacob Hassan, and it certainly made a difference as Kalba troubled Baniyas for the first time. The best effort was a hard shot from Salim Jasim, which was tipped over the crossbar by Ayoub al Marzouqi. But the visitors scored from the ensuing corner when a header from Fatadi deflected off Jabar, the Baniyas defender. Officials, however, credited the goal to Fatadi.
Eissa's goal in added time made it a two-goal game, but it was far too late for the visitors to mount a comeback. "This was the worst we have played in four games," Patricio said. "We made some changes in the second half and played much better. But Baniyas are a very good team and they deserved to win the way they played." firstname.lastname@example.org