x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Etisalat Cup: Al Ain 0 Al Wahda 0

Al Wahda consolidated their place at the top of Group A after holding out for a 0-0 draw against Al Ain.

Papa Waigo, centre, the Al Wahda forward, was all too often squeezed out by a stubborn Al Ain defence last night. Pawan Singh / The National
Papa Waigo, centre, the Al Wahda forward, was all too often squeezed out by a stubborn Al Ain defence last night. Pawan Singh / The National

AL AIN // Al Wahda consolidated their place at the top of Etisalat Cup Group A after holding out for a 0-0 draw against Al Ain.

The capital club may consider themselves lucky to return from the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium with a share of the spoils but the result means they now have seven points from three games. Al Ain have four points from their opening two games.

Wahda went into the game on the back of a 6-0 win over Dibba Al Fujairah in the Pro League and a 6-1 triumph over Al Shaab in the Etisalat Cup, yet they failed to breach a stubborn home rearguard, although the visiting captain said he was pleased to have come away with a point.

"It is a satisfying result for us from an away game and against a team of the quality of Al Ain," Tawfeeq Abdulrazaq, the Wahda captain, said in a post-match television interview with Abu Dhabi Sports.

"We came with the intention of a win but that didn't happen. So we are pretty happy to go back with a point and to remain undefeated in this competition."

Al Ain were the better team on the night as they created more scoring chances but were wasteful in front of goal. They pushed hard to find a way through but the Wahda defence held firm.

While Al Ain were ultimately held to a draw Mohammed Abdulrahman, the midfielder, claimed a moral victory.

"We did everything right but score," he said. "We had a few very clear chances but we couldn't finish.

"These things are not uncommon in football but I think we scored a moral win over them."

Ali Al Wehaibi let the visitors off the hook midway through the first half.

Helal Saeed chipped the ball over the Wahda defence to leave Al Wehaibi alone 10 yards from goal but a weak effort saw Adel Al Hosani, the goalkeeper, cling on to the shot, when he really should have been picking it out of the net.

Al Wehaibi fluffed another opportunity to put his team ahead shortly before the break. Saeed played a through ball to the Emirati forward but he shot wide of goal from inside the box.

As the game progressed Al Wehaibi continued to cut a frustrated figure in front of goal. He picked up another through pass and sidestepped Al Hosani but his tame shot was wide of the mark again.

Wahda's best chance fell to Abdulrazak midway through the second half but his effort was tipped over the crossbar by Abdulla Sultan, the Al Ain goalkeeper.

Branko Ivankovic, the Wahda coach, picked the same line-up that beat Shaab last Wednesday.

They were without the forwards Ismail Matar and Saeed Al Kathiri, and the central defenders Hamdan Al Kamali and Mohammed Shaibah, the Oman international, all on national duty.

But Al Ain were also without several of their key players for the same reason.

They were missing Asamoah Gyan, the Ghana international who scored his team's goal in the 1-0 win over Malawi in the African Cup of Nations qualifier on Saturday, and Alex Brosque who has joined the Australia squad for tomorrow's 2014 World Cup qualifier against Iraq in Doha.

Omar Abdulrahman, Mohammed Ahmed, Muhanad Al Enazi and Dawoud Sulaiman, the goalkeeper, are with the UAE national team for tomorrow's friendly against Bahrain while Jires Kembo Ekoko, the Congolese forward, is still recovering from injury.

apassela@thenational.ae

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