x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Vercauteren tight-lipped over Al Jazira red card

The new coach of Jazira would not be drawn on the performance of the referee who controversially dismissed Subait Khater.

Franky Vercauteren was given a few anxious moments against Al Wahda by the referee.
Franky Vercauteren was given a few anxious moments against Al Wahda by the referee.

Franky Vercauteren, the Al Jazira coach, declined to comment on the officiating in the wake of his team's victory over city rivals Al Wahda in a temperamental Etisalat Cup match.

Jazira overcame a numerical disadvantage to win 2-1 on Friday night and maintain their unbeaten record through two rounds.

"I am happy with the result and I am happy with efforts of my players who showed the ability to win despite a playing with a player short for the major part of the game," Vercauteren said.

"I told my players to put that issue behind them and focus on the game, and they did just that. They showed real character at that. We were better organized at the back and didn't allow our opponents to score."

Jazira were reduced to 10 players in the 24th minute when Subait Khater was red-carded by the referee Hamad Al Sheikh. As Khater tried to get his foot on the ball, his boot came close to the charging Yaqoub Yousef. Although television replays showed no contact, the UAE international midfielder was sent off.

The new Jazira coach said he accepted the decision and didn't want to comment on the refereeing. Instead, he focussed on his team's improvement.

"The defence has improved a lot since our defeat against Wahda in the Super Cup," he said. "This is only our third game and I think we are striking the right balance. Hopefully we will keep improving all-round."

Jazira led 1-0 on an early goal from Matias Delgado, the Argentine midfielder, before Wahda canceled the lead courtesy of a Hugo penalty. But Jazira regained the lead on a second half strike from their Brazilian forward Ricardo Oliveira.

Josef Hickersberger, the Wahda coach who had got them off to a bright start by winning the season-opening Super Cup and a 2-1 away win over Al Ain in the Etisalat Cup, said Oliveira made all the difference.

"He had a very good game and won it for them on the night," he said. "Jazira tightened their defence in the second half and were good on the counter attacks.

"We are still trying to get some of our key players back to match fitness. Ismail (Matar) and Fernando Baiano (the Brazilian striker) were returning from lengthy periods and they are still not fit to play 90 minutes. It is still early in the season and I am hopeful of the improvements."

apassela@thenational.ae