x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Al Jassim are spot on in men's final

They needed penalties in both the semi-final and final at the Dome Rawdhat last night to clinch the National Amateur Football League men's crown.

ABU DHABI // Al Jassim needed penalties in both the semi-final and final at the Dome Rawdhat last night to clinch the National Amateur Football League (NAFL) men's crown.

In the seven-a-side competition, Al Jassim defeated Spartans 4-3 on spot-kicks in the last four before holding their nerve from 12 yards again in the final, this time beating Mediapro Hawks in an all-Abu Dhabi final.

The victory was sweet for Al Jassim as they avenged the defeat they suffered in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Football League (ADFL) earlier this year.

But they certainly did things the hard way, requiring a goal from Nathar Jarrar with just two minutes of normal time remaining to send the final into extra time and then penalties.

"We have been playing consistently well in both, the ADFL and now the NAFL, and deserved this win," said Mazin Kathlan, the Al Jassim captain.

"Of course, we played much better than we did in the previous competition and the league stage of this tournament. We knew we could win against [Hawks] as we had played them and lost narrowly in our previous meeting.

"We were good on the counter-attack and we defended well after we scored the equaliser. When it went to penalties, it would have been anyone's game. Still, we deserved the win and we are really excited about it because we have been working very, very hard for it."

The Hawks got their noses in front through Kasra Asrar-Haghighi and were heading for a league double until Jarrar's sliding effort at the death of the second period of 20 minutes.

"We should have finished the game early from the several chances we created but that didn't happen and we had to pay the price at the end," Asrar-Haghighi, the Iranian, said. "But we shouldn't take the sheen away from their win.

"They did well to come back with a goal and force the game to penalties. We were also tired at the end of a long day playing under the energy-sapping weather.

"Besides winning and losing, we thoroughly enjoyed playing in such competitions and we do hope both the NAFL and the ADFL will grow in stature for expatriates like us to play a better level."

Meanwhile, Nadine Schtakleff scored in each half to lead King Raiders to a 2-0 win over the Falcons in the all-Dubai final of the women's event.

"We had a great time playing in this competition with so many other teams and to win was just a fantastic feeling," Nehal Abdel Aziz, the captain and longest serving member of the King Raiders, said.

Said Schtakleff: "We came with the intention of winning and we achieved it. We enjoy the sport and this competition was a wonderful opportunity for all of us not only to enjoy but to play at a good level."

In the Under 16 final, Ahmed al Jarwani fired a hat-trick to inspire Baniyas to a 7-3 success over Abu Dhabi United.

Baniyas, an all-Emirati side, proved too strong for their opponents, a side made up of Palestinians, South Africans, Dutch, Indians, Bahrainis and Emiratis.

"It was a new and enjoyable experience for us to play against so many other teams and to reach the final," said Saleh Jaffal, the Abu Dhabi United captain and a Palestine student from the International School of Choueifat.

Nasser al Junaibi, the Baniyas coach, said his team comprised players from the Pro League club and those who played for the school teams in the city.

"Of course, every team comes with the intention of winning but it was also a good experience for our boys. It was enjoyable, too."