x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Nasser’s late strike lifts Al Wasl to draw with Baniyas

Hector Cuper, the Wasl manager, conceded the quality of passing by his team left much to be desired, adding that he was 'annoyed' with the way his team started, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

Al Wasl's Hamad Al Hosani, left, tries to gain possession during their match against Baniyas on Friday. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. Al Ittihad
Al Wasl's Hamad Al Hosani, left, tries to gain possession during their match against Baniyas on Friday. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. Al Ittihad

Al Wasl 1 Baniyas 1

Al Wasl Nasser 90+2’

Baniyas Saleh 45+2’

Man of the match Mohammed Nasser (Al Wasl)

DUBAI // Perhaps, the two teams were bitten by the Mubadala World Tennis Championship bug because the Al Wasl and Baniyas players spent most of the match kicking balls across an invisible net, not to one of their own, but to the other side. Completed passes were as rare as Novak Djokovic’s double faults.

After 90 minutes of this benevolent back and forth, the teams, fittingly, shared the honours with both goals coming in the second minute of added time in either half – first by Haboush Saleh of Baniyas and then by Mohammed Nasser.

Hector Cuper, the Wasl manager, conceded the quality of passing by his team left much to be desired, adding that he was “annoyed” with the way his team started.

“When Khalifa Abdullah came on as a substitute, the accuracy of his passing made the difference towards the end and it helped us get the equaliser,” he said.

Abdullah replaced Mariano Donda in the 85th minute, as the Argentine, according to Cuper, was looking tired. The change worked for Wasl.

Donda, according to reports, could be heading to Saudi Arabia in January, but another Argentine playmaker, Pablo Batalla, could be arriving at the club to replace the Moroccan defender Abdelfettah Boukhriss. Mohammed Al Ameri, a Wasl official, said the deal for Batalla, who is currently playing for the Turkish club Buraspor, is “90 per cent” done.

Nasser had two goals disallowed – one for a handball, one for offside – before he finally got on the score sheet, following an excellent run and pass by Abdullah, to earn a point.

Jorge da Silva, the Baniyas coach, said the injury absence of players like the playmaker Amer Abdulrahman, who had knee surgery, explains the club’s slide.

“Our team is suffering due to the absence of some key players,” the Uruguayan said. “Now we are facing the absence of Fawad Awana for three matches. That is the reason for the drop in the level of the team.”

Al Dhafra 1 Al Nasr 1

It was a match with a Senegalese flavour on Friday night as Al Dhafra drew 1-1 with Al Nasr in Madinat Zayed.

Nasr’s Senegalese forward Ibahima Toure opened the scoring 10 minutes before half time for coach Ivan Jovanovic’s title hopefuls, who were looking to move back into third place with victory.

It was Toure’s 10th league strike of the season. However, Makhete Diop, Toure’s compatriot, brought Dhafra back into the game just after the break when he was set up by Kamel Chafni.

The result leaves Nasr nine points behind leaders Al Ahli, while Dhafra are a further four points back in ninth.

arizvi@thenational.ae