Kenwyne Jones and Angel Lafita handed debuts as Al Jazira leave Al Wasl with hard-fought draw
Al Wasl 2
Kazim 58’, Lima 78’
Al Jazira 2
Neves 21’, Al Shamsi 67’
DUBAI // Another new era at Al Jazira began with a show of fresh resolve.
The Abu Dhabi club, tipped pre-season to be title contenders, travelled to high-flying Al Wasl on Friday night with their batch of recent appointments eager for a strong start.
Henk ten Cate, looking dapper in a dark blue suit, was in their dugout for the first time since replacing Abel Braga as coach, while Kenwyne Jones and Angel Lafita were given debuts despite joining only this week.
So Jazira did just enough to depart the Zabeel Stadium with a share of the spoils. Largely outplayed by Wasl, the visitors still twice took the lead, through goals from Thiago Neves and Sultan Al Shamsi.
However, familiar failings at the back cost them, with Abdullah Kazim and Fabio Lima both scoring headers from second-half corners. Each time, Hugo Viana was the provider.
Yet the manner of the draw should give Jazira reason for optimism, even though they remain 10th in the table after 14 matches. Not exactly the heady heights, then.
Speaking of which, Jones’s towering presence gave them a target to hit, but the former Premier League striker did not have too much joy. He failed to make his best opportunity count, when Wasl goalkeeper Ali Rashid saved well low to his left in the first half. Jones, though, will take heart from the fact he was involved in Jazira’s second, knocking a header to Ali Mabkhout for him to set Shamsi clear.
Lafita, meanwhile, spent the majority of the match on the fringes, his control on the chest and shot midway through the first half his sole contribution.
It is worth remembering the two recruits have had next-to-no time with their new teammates, and the same goes for Ten Cate, who hardly left his seat until the dying moments.
The Dutchman and Jazira will undoubtedly want more. Put simply, they need it.
Man of the match: Hugo Viana – The Wasl playmaker was again his side’s conductor, setting the tempo and creating a number of opportunities for teammates. Wasl scored from a couple of brilliant Viana deliveries from corners.
What the managers said:
Gabriel Calderon, Wasl manager: “We played a very good match, but I think we lost two points. However, we came back from losing situations twice, which showed we’re a great team. We controlled the match for 90 minutes, although unfortunately we couldn’t score again. We have a strong mentality for moving forward in the season.”
Henk ten Cate, Jazira coach: “I think I must be happy because we took a point from a difficult away game against the fourth-placed team in the league. It could have been much better, but for the time being it is a good result. Of course, we want to win the first game, but I knew it would be difficult against a good team with good players. But we did a good job.”
The National verdict: Wasl were by far the better side, but Jazira were pleased to come away with one point. In doing so, they showed more fight than they did throughout the first half to the season.
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Updated: January 8, 2016 04:00 AM