x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Paulo Bonamigo rues Al Shabab's missed opportunities

The Dubai side failed to convert chances, while players were embroiled in confrontations.

Al Shabab’s Ciel, centre, is challeneged by Al Hilal’s Majed Marshadi during the Asian Champions League Group D match.
Al Shabab’s Ciel, centre, is challeneged by Al Hilal’s Majed Marshadi during the Asian Champions League Group D match.

DUBAI // Al Shabab's search for a first win in this season's Asian Champions League continues after they were held to a draw at home by Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal last night as ugly scenes once again marred the end of their match.

Last Thursday, Diego Maradona, the Al Wasl coach, had to be escorted away by police after running into the stands to confront Shabab supporters after verbal insults were allegedly directed at the Argentine's wife.

With full time approaching last night, the referee was forced to hold up play for a couple of minutes as Shabab's Walid Abbas and Salem Al Dawsari of Hilal pushed each other following a heated exchange. At the same time, Kieza, Shabab's Brazilian striker, got into an argument with some Hilal defenders on the other side of the pitch.

Officials quickly managed to calm the situation down on the pitch, while security at the stadium were quick to get between the rivals fans before their verbal barbs turned into anything more sinister.

The result leaves Shabab rooted to the bottom of Group D with two points, while Hilal registered their third draw from three games.

Earlier, Ciel had given Shabab a 37th minute lead, but the South Korean Yoo Byung-soo cancelled it out in the 67th minute.

Having just one point from their first two matches after playing out a goalless draw against Al Gharafa and the humiliating 6-1 defeat away at Persepolis last month, Shabab were keen to get their Group D quest back on track.

Paulo Bonamigo, the Shabab coach, felt his side deserved better than a share of the points, saying: "It was a very difficult game as we expected. Part of our strategy was to use Ciel from the right as a winger and counter attack with Walid Abbas from the left side, trying to surprise Hilal.

"We created some good chances, but at this level, if you create three or four chances and don't score, it can make things complicated for you.

"However, I want to congratulate the boys. They followed all the instructions and now we just need to keep fighting and see where we finish."

Taking the field without their influential midfielders Azizbek Haydarov and Carlos Villanueva through injury, the hosts made an impressive start and twice should have opened the scoring in the first 10 minutes, but Kieza came up short on both occasions.

Ciel, who had been clattered by a crunching tackle by Majed Marshadi moments earlier, then tested Khalid Sharahili, the Hilal goalkeeper, with a deft turn and volley in the 31st minute which the Saudi did well to keep out.

The Brazilian, however, did eventually register his second goal of the competition. Receiving the ball from Naser Masood just inside the Hilal half, Ciel dashed down the pitch, drifting away from the defenders, before finishing with a scorcher from the edge of the penalty area.

Hilal started the brighter of the two teams after the interval with Yoo unleashing a spectacular overhead volley, which sailed just over the target.

Shabab survived a few tense moments with the defender Hamdan Qassim showing great reflexes as he blocked a couple of quick shots from close range.

The Shabab defence came under mounting pressure as the game progressed and Hilal found the leveller in the 69th minute. Youssef El Arabi bisected two Shabab defenders as he flicked the ball forward for Yoo and the South Korean placed it in the far corner.

Shabab should have regained the lead when Ciel crossed the ball for Kieza, but his compatriot headed the ball straight into the hands of the Hilal keeper.

"We played really bad in the first half," said Ivan Hasek, the Hilala coach who knows Shabab well from his previous experiences as coach of Al Ahli in the Pro League.

"Our performance picked up in the second session and we created many chances, but could not take advantage of them.

"To sum things up, our performance in the first half was a disaster."

 

arizvi@thenational.ae

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