x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Al Ahli's new start ends in defeat to Dubai

Without the injured Fabio Cannavaro and the recently sacked David O'Leary, a bicycle kick from Dubai's Michael Laurent Ndri earns his side a 2-1 win.

Dubai 2 // Al Ahli 1

DUBAI // David O’Leary and Fabio Cannavaro were nowhere to be seen, but for a moment it appeared Wayne Rooney was the latest big name signing to grace the UAE Pro League.

Last night, at Dubai Sports Club Stadium, Michael Laurent Ndri, the Dubai forward, spun in the air to connect with a powerful overhead kick to send Al Ahli’s new interim manager Abdulhameed al Mishtiki slumping into his seat. It was the final kick of the game.

O’Leary, who al Mishtiki replaced earlier this week in a bid to improve results, may have allowed himself a slim smile. Ahli, without the injured Cannavaro, had struggled throughout to impose themselves.

On 30 minutes, they fell behind to a penalty following a reckless challenge by Mohammed Qassim. The onlooking Srecko Katanec, the UAE national coach who recently returned from a trip to Europe where he has been assessing potential summer training bases, will have been dismayed by some of the defending.

He may, however, take consolation from an assured display by Dubai playmaker Hassan Abdulrahman. It was the former UAE Olympic team member, having earlier stung the hands of Obaid al Taweela in the Ahli goal, who cooly slotted home the spot-kick.

Dubai’s lead was short-lived, however. Twelve minutes later, Ahmad Khalil, who Katanec has lamented does not play often enough for his club, capitalised on some comical defending to slam the ball into an empty net at the second attempt.

Ndri scored with the final kick, but the final word was left for al Mishtiki.

“I am not disappointed by the performance,” he said. “Ninety nine times out of 100, Ndri’s shot does not go in. We just had bad luck.”