x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Pro League: Hot finish of season more about weather than Wasl-Baniyas

On a steamy night in Dubai, Baniyas get the better of Al Wasl thanks to a goal off a penalty strike by Nawaf Mubarak to close out the Pro League season.

Ahmed Ibrahim of Al Wasl, left, sets to defend his space from Saleh Hamad of Baniyas.
Ahmed Ibrahim of Al Wasl, left, sets to defend his space from Saleh Hamad of Baniyas.



Baniyas Mubarak 63' (pen)

Man of the Match Mohamed Naser (Al Wasl)


DUBAI // And so the sun sets on yet another Pro League campaign.

Fittingly, it had saved its baking best for the final match of the season, scorching the Zabeel Stadium on what was surely the hottest evening of 2013 thus far.

While it extracted the worst from the pores of the spectators who had bothered to witness Al Wasl's twice-rearranged encounter with Baniyas, spare a thought for its protagonists, who laboured and lurched throughout a languid 90 minutes.

At times they appeared to be treading treacle.

Presumably, it was difficult to mine already depleted reservoirs of energy, for a number of reasons.

It has been a long nine months for both sets of players - Wasl have struggled through four different managers, while Baniyas added the Gulf Clubs Championship to their schedule - and this particular clash had nothing but mooted bragging rights riding on it.

The players could be forgiven for wandering minds, perhaps distracted by dreams of impending end-of-season jaunts … to somewhere nice and chilly.

It was Eid Baroot's final game in charge of the home side, Wasl preparing for the now-traditional summer of transition, Laurent Banide waiting to officially assume his role as manager.

The former Al Dhafra coach was in the stands here, running his eye over inherited resources. He would not have found too much to raise hopes.

All three of the foreign players on display will not figure in his revolution, as Ahmed Ibrahim, Emiliano Alfaro and Jussie get set to return to their respective parent clubs. Achille Emana, the January loanee from Al Ahli, has already departed.

Signs of encouragement, though, were provided by Mohammed Naser, the Emirati striker, and Saoud Saeed, his young compatriot in defence, who launched his body to clear the ball off the line early in a disjointed second half.

Saeed could do nothing about the eventual winner, however, when shortly after the hour Jussie tangled with Saleh Hamad on the edge of the penalty area.

The Baniyas winger delayed his fall until he entered the box, and the referee belatedly pointed to the spot. Nawaf Mubarak, the visiting captain, coolly dispatched from 12 yards.

"I congratulate the administration and the players, but a special thank you to Al Wasl supporters," Baroot said, noting "thank you" messages from fans. "I was very happy to see the banners all over the stadium. I've felt the help and support from them since I joined."

When asked if he leaves the club in a healthier position than when he arrived in February, Baroot added: "Yes, I spoke very clearly with the previous committee when I joined, saying the target was 30 points and that we'd win the matches to leave us in a comfortable position.

"And that's what happened."




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