x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Al Wahda given a lift by youth

Abu Dhabi club complete 4-0 rout of Dubai despite the absence of 15 players in the Etisalat Cup game on Sunday night.

Al Wahda’s Mahmoud Khamis, far right, scored a brilliant goal in the 68th minute to take the game away from Dubai on Sunday night.
Al Wahda’s Mahmoud Khamis, far right, scored a brilliant goal in the 68th minute to take the game away from Dubai on Sunday night.

ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger was full of praise for his inexperienced Al Wahda team after their 3-2 Etisalat Cup win over Dubai on Sunday night.

The Austrian coach said that he has lost count of the number of the players who were absent from the side as their win took them off the bottom of Group A.

"I think we had 15 players missing in total. To be honest, there is so many that I can't count them all," Hickersberger said. "I have never had as many players unavailable for one game ever before in my career.

"So this was a good victory for the team and I'm especially pleased for the young players. We had Badr Al Harthi from the youth team playing, who is only 17, and he had a very good debut.

"But this competition is a chance for me to play the young players, and they did well to beat a strong team such as Dubai. It was an important win for us when you take everything into account."

The deadlock at Al Nahyan Stadium was broken after 14 minutes.

Dubai's Ismaeil Ahmed conceded a foul, and earned himself a booking, with a late lunge on Nayef Salem just outside the box. Hugo took the free kick and sent in a dipping cross, which Haitham Al Yaqoobi turned home from close range to give Wahda what was a deserved lead at that stage.

But the advantage lasted only six minutes.

It was Salem's turn to badly mistime a tackle on Hasan Mohamed, the Dubai forward, inside the box, and Ibrahim Al Muhairi, the referee, awarded a penalty that Hassan Abdelrahman converted.

Dubai took advantage of some poor Wahda finishing by going ahead just before the break.

The home side's defence was almost motionless as Mohamed sent a low cross into the danger area and Dubai's Abou Baca Camara was first to the ball, which he sent into the net.

However, the home side were level again after 52 minutes.

A deep cross from man of the match Mahmoud Khamis on the left was met by a Fernando Baiano header, which dropped kindly for Hugo who bundled the ball past Yousuf Ahmed, the goalkeeper.

Then Wahda struck a sensational winner on 68 minutes.

Khamis, the midfielder, was 25 yards from goal when he sent an unstoppable left foot shot into the top corner.

Defeat for Ion Marin, the Dubai coach, was compounded by the sending off of Ahmed in injury time when a foul on Ibraheem Alawi earned him a second yellow card. "We made too many mistakes in both halves," Marin said.

"While their winner was a well-executed goal, it came from an error from us. But I can see progress and do think we are not far away from having a good team."

ncameron@thenational.ae

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