x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Ciel scintillates in Sharjah

Valeriu Tita's preparations for the Pro League in tatters as Sharjah fall to a 3-0 loss at home to Al Shabab.

Al Shabab‘s Essa Obaid, left, score two goals in their Etisalat Cup defeat of Sharjah.
Al Shabab‘s Essa Obaid, left, score two goals in their Etisalat Cup defeat of Sharjah.

Sharjah 0 Al Shabab 3
Al Shabab Obaid 58’, 76’;
Villanueva 73’
Man of the match
Ciel (Shabab)

SHARJAH // On the eve of the game, Valeriu Tita was hoping Sharjah's Etisalat Cup match, against Al Shabab, would be a final dress rehearsal before the important business of the Pro League. He was confident of putting together the final pieces of the puzzle before the visit to Diego Maradona's Al Wasl on October 16.

The Romanian will, however, spend the next week still looking for solutions, and looking over his back as well, after Sharjah's second successive Etisalat Cup defeat. The management will be far from pleased with the state of affairs at the once mighty "Kings" of UAE football.

Critical of the goalkeeper Gassem Mohammed's performance in the 3-2 defeat at Ajman last week, Tita handed over the gloves to Mohammed Abdullah, but the former Masafi man could do little as Essa Obaid headed home the opener, from a cross by Ciel, just before the hour the hour.

Carlos Villanueva added Shabab's second in the 73rd minute, also from a pass by Ciel, who tormented the left side of the Sharjah defence. Three minutes later, Obaid got in another header, from a Villanueva pass, to complete their third win in four matches in the tournament.

"I am really disappointed because we have now conceded nine goals in my three matches," Tita said. "We are giving away too many easy goals and we need to really change that. We now have one week to fix our problems, not just in defence but in the midfield as well.

"Before this match, we had talked about the Shabab team and their midfield, and Sharjah did well in the first half to keep them in check. But in the second half, they lost the midfield and when you lose the midfield, you lose the match."

The first 30 minutes of the game were played at a slumberous pace, with nothing to really enliven the torpid atmosphere in the stands. As the clock ticked towards half-time, there was a gradual improvement.

Abdullah tried to create some excitement by making an innocuous Villanueva volley seem like a genuine chance and his counterpart, Ismail Rabea, made a similar attempt, fumbling a simple collection, but no Sharjah player was at hand to take advantage.

At half-time, Sharjah fans were trooping out of the stands, looking for better ways to spend their Friday evening. Those who stayed back must have regretted their decision.

They were probably cringing in the 52nd minute when Marcelo messed up an easy tap into an open goal. He took a tad too long, allowing Abdullah Darwish to pull off a goal-line save. To add to their disappointment, Obaid then headed in his two goals and Villanueva found acres of space to complete the scoreline.

"Sharjah created a lot of difficulties for us in the first session," said Paulo Bonamigo, the coach. "They were very organised. But in the second session we changed our strategy and did not give them the freedom to play their game.

"In the second half we played more offensive and created a lot more chances. We also focused on drying up the long balls that Iman Mobali usually sends in for the three strikers."

Al Ain 4 Al Jazira 2
Al Ain Radoi 20’ (pen), 70’ (pen), 83’, Al Saedi 75’
Al Jazira Oliveira 32’, Delgado 54’ (pen)
Man of the match: Mirel Radoi (Al Ain)

Al Ain handed Al Jazira their first defeat of the Etisalat Cup campaign as the Romanian midfielder, Mirel Radoi, scored a hat-trick. Ricardo Oliveira, above, and Matias Delgado scored to give Jazira a brief lead. The match was played at Al Shabab as Al Ain served out the second game of a two-home-match ban for unruly fan behaviour last season.

Al Nasr 2 Ajman 3
Al Nasr Bresciano 5’,
Ahmad 88’
Ajman Maatouk 23’, 42’; Toure 61’
Man of the match: Hassan Maatouk (Ajman)

Little Ajman continued their surprising run of Cup results as the Lebanese expatriate, Hassan Maatouk, scored twice in his professional debut. Ibrahima Toure scored the winner, his sixth goal in four matches. Ajman lead Group B with 10 points from four matches. Nasr remains stuck on four points despite the first UAE goal from the Australian, Mark Bresciano.