x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Super sub saves the day for Al Wasl against Al Shabab in League Cup

Only incidents of note in match under stifling conditions involved two red cards and Hamad Al Hosani's winner after the hour, reports John McAuley.

Al Wasl team members celebrate  the goal against Al Shabab. Sarah Dea / The National
Al Wasl team members celebrate the goal against Al Shabab. Sarah Dea / The National

DUBAI // This may have been disguised as the much-anticipated beginning of the latest UAE football campaign, but instead it paraded itself, for the majority, as a battle against the elements.

For that, Al Shabab and Al Wasl cannot take any of the blame, as their opening UAE League Cup encounter was spoiled by an unrelenting Dubai night.

Played in the most suffocating of conditions, the heat sapped and the humidity significantly slackened, its combatants treading treacle throughout.

Those new 2013/14 kits should have made way for swimming togs and a little light refreshment.

At first glance, the match promised much. Granted, what previously was known as the Etisalat Cup was always going to feel a tad tepid, given its position on the calendar, but even the international break could not deprive it of some of the league's most exciting contestants.

For Shabab, there was a welcome return for Carlos Villanueva, the rehabilitated and refocused Chilean schemer, a debut for Adeilson Pereira de Mello, the summer recruit from Brazil, and a second bow - long story - for the local defender, Esam Dhahi.

Take a run through the Wasl team sheet and it offered Mariano Donda, the fit-again playmaker, and a fine trio of recent additions in Milan Susak, Andre Senghor and Ahmed Jumaa.

Such was the early-season promise that even Luis Milla found time to take in proceedings from the stands.

The Al Jazira manager, having guided his team to an earlier victory against Al Shaab, scribbled furiously at his notepad throughout. Perhaps he was scrawling future reminders: "wear light clothes, buy handheld fan, bring coolbox - stacked".

So to the action.

Despite Adeilson suggesting he will prove an astute purchase, the only incidents of note involved red cards for Shabab's Dawood Ali and Wasl's Donda - separate incidents, both avoidable - and Hamad Al Hosani's winner just after the hour.

The Wasl substitute had arrived on the Rashid bin Maktoum Stadium pitch only moments before, but was alert enough to meet Khalifa Abdulla's pullback and steer a shot high into the Shabab goal.

The final whistle would surely have been greeted with as much ebullience as the goal, if by that stage the players were not running solely on fumes.

Oliveira is spot on for Al Jazira

Ricardo Oliveira’s goal was enough for Al Jazira to defeat Al Shaab 1-0 and get their 2013/14 campaign off to a winning start.

The Brazilian, right, scored from a spot kick in the 74th minute after Sultan Bargash went down with a minimum of contact from Kazim Ali, the Shaab defender, in the League Cup match played on Tuesday night in Sharjah.

Each side created several scoring opportunities in an evenly contested game. Jazira played without their No 1 goalkeeper, Ali Kasheif, the forward Ali Mabkhout and the midfielder Khamis Ismail, and the Moroccan Abdelaziz Barrada, the midfielder, because of national duty.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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