x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Ain strike high octave notes

The Al Ain coach Winfried Schaefer saluted his team after their crushing win over Dibba Al Fujairah in the opening round of the President's Cup.

Ahmad Qadir, left, loses an aerial battle against Al Ain.
Ahmad Qadir, left, loses an aerial battle against Al Ain.

DUBAI // The Al Ain coach Winfried Schaefer saluted his team after their crushing win over Dibba Al Fujairah in the opening round of the President's Cup. Al Ain, the league leaders and only unbeaten side of the season, showed their power, decimating their Division One rivals 8-0 to book a second-round clash against Al Fujairah, who knocked out Ajman 3-2.

The floodgates opened when Abdullah Ali conceded an own-goal in the fourth minute. Andre Dias then struck a hat-trick for the four-time President's Cup winners, Jorge Valdivia scored twice, while Saif Mohammed and Salem Abdulla had a goal apiece. "These matches are never easy," said coach Schaefer. "Al Shaab and Ajman have been knocked out by lower division sides and Al Wahda had a scare too. "These lower division sides have nothing to lose and they come out at you with everything they have. Technique, class and form count for little in such games, because the smaller teams are out to prove a point.

"This is the only tournament where they get a chance to play against the top sides, and they try to make the most of it. "So I am happy with our performance, but I want the boys to show the same level in the league games and win every competition this season." While Al Ain waltzed through the first round, their Abu Dhabi rivals Al Wahda were lucky to avoid a first-round exit with a battling 4-3 extra-time win over Hatta on Thursday night at Al Wasl.

The match came alive towards the end, with a flurry of goals and fortunes swung wildly. Four goals were scored in the final 17 minutes of regulation time, and three more came in extra-time. Saeed Mubarak put Hatta ahead in the 73rd minute, but substitute Mohammed al Shehi equalised seven minutes later and Mohammed Othman struck the second for Wahda in the 84th minute. Mubarak, however, scored his second of the game four minutes later to push the game into extra-time.

Mubarak was the architect of the third goal as well, floating over the defence for Leonardo to score in the 11th minute of extra-time. Andre Pinga, however, kept Wahda's hopes alive with a header seconds before the change of ends and Abdulraheem Jumaa then sealed the game with a deft volley from the top of the box in the 107th minute, which booked a second- round clash with Dibba al Husn. "It is not the first surprise, and it will not be the last," said the Wahda coach Ahmed Abdulhaleem. "Such matches are always difficult; just because you are playing a first division side, it doesn't mean the outcome is guaranteed.

"It is not going to be a picnic for you, because anything is possible on the pitch. The game showed that the smaller teams are capable of knocking out the bigger sides, and I am glad we have avoided that fate. arizvi@thenational.ae