x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Al Ain shocked by Baniyas in UAE League Cup

Nawaf Mubarak had a hand in all three of Baniyas's goals to lead the way past Al Ain in their League Cup opener. Amith Passela reports.

SHAMKHA // Baniyas sounded an early warning of their intentions this season with an authoritative home victory over Al Ain.

Nawaf Mubarak had a hand in all three goals, scoring twice after his free kick set up Fawaz Awana to open the scoring in their League Cup opener Wednesday night.

"I am very pleased with my performance on the night and the accomplishment of the team," the midfielder said. "It was an excellent team effort where everyone chipped in with their contributions.

"We managed to score an early goal and that certainly helped. Our strategy was to push for a win and we did well to achieve that objective by playing an attacking game."

Al Ain played without a half-dozen first-team players who were away on national duty, including Omar Abdulrahman and Asamoah Gyan, but Jorge Fossati, the Al Ain coach, said he found it useful to observe some of his second-team players.

"Baniyas scored from mistakes but we must not take the sheen off their win," the Uruguayan said. "They were the better team on the night."

It was another energy-sapping evening but the Baniyas players showed they could handle the elements; their attacking style was the game's dominant element.

Baniyas were rewarded early. Mubarak fired a stinging free kick from 40 yards which Dawoud Sulaiman spilled, and Awana tapped the loose ball into the net.

Salem Abdullah, the Al Ain midfielder, brought down Mohammed Bargash inside the box and Mubarak fired the spot kick to the top corner of the net to double the lead early in the second half.

The visitors reduced through Mohammed Abdulrahman, with a spot kick awarded for a handball against Thamer Mohammed.

But Baniyas regained the two-goal cushion almost immediately when Mubarak fired a free kick deep from the right flank to beat Sulaiman on the bounce.

It was a frustrating second game for Al Ain, after their shootout defeat to Al Ahli in the curtain raiser Super Cup last week.

Jorge da Silva, the Baniyas coach, suggested not too much should be made of the result.

"It is the first game and we are still trying to find the right balances," he said. "It will be a gradual process to change the tactics but hopefully we will have a good combination as the season progress. There are a lot of new players in the squad, particularly some Emirati youngsters."

Carlos Munoz, Baniyas's Chile international, did not play because, Da Silva said, the forward "hasn't completed the papers with the PLC, but he will be ready against Ajman next week".

Chafni's brace leads Al Dhafra past Al Ahli

Kamel Chafni, the slender former Ligue 1 forward from Morocco, scored twice as Al Dhafra overpowered the President’s Cup and Super Cup holders Al Ahli 3-1 in a League Cup match in the Western Region.

Bandar Mohammed gave Dhafra a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute, and Grafite got a consolation goal in the 53rd.

Also, Ajman topped Al Nasr 2-1, spotting the home team a first-half goal by Ibrahima Toure before Simon Pierre Feindouno, in the 50th minute, and Boris Kabi, in the 86th, replied for Ajman.

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