Arabian Gulf League: Henk Ten Cate delighted with Al Jazira’s 3-1 win over Al Wasl, but bemoans missed chances
Abu Dhabi: The only complaint Henk ten Cate, the Al Jazira coach, had about his side’s 3-1 victory over Al Wasl in their 2016-17 Arabian Gulf League opener on Saturday evening was that it had not been more comprehensive.
Jazira recalled their swashbuckling best of two seasons ago, when they finished AGL runners-up, to triumph comfortably at the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Ali Mabkhout, the leading Emirati goalscorer in the AGL in 2015/16 with 23 goals, led the way with a brace, while Jefferson Farfan emerged from the darkness of an injury-hit debut campaign to score the other goal for the reinvigorated hosts.
Ali Salmin levelled Mabkhout’s 15th-minute opener for the Cheetahs 10 minutes before the break, but overall Wasl were no match for the inspired capital outfit.
Given that when the two sides met on the opening day last season Jazira suffered a 2-1 defeat and eventually finished seventh, Ten Cate had justifiable cause for optimism afterwards.
He was “very pleased” by his side’s “good movement and good football”, but added: “If you see the chances we created, it should have been much more than 3-1, so the only thing I cannot be happy about is we missed a lot of chances, but I’m not because we created a lot.”
Rodolfo Arruabarrena, the new Wasl boss, insisted he was not too downcast about his first AGL defeat, pointing out that: “It’s the first match. It’s up to us to be near the top but I have a great team.”
Jazira showed no signs of a hangover after last Tuesday’s 2-1 Arabian Gulf Super Cup defeat to Al Ahli in Cairo by roaring out of the blocks.
Mabkhout’s superb, stooping header from Mohammad Fawzi’s pinpoint cross gave a revved-up Jazira the lead in the 15th minute, but the hosts’ defensive carelessness allowed Wasl to level against the run of play 20 minutes later.
Jazira failed to clear their lines adequately from a corner, and Salmin’s rasping, low drive eluded the clutches of goalkeeper Ali Khaseif to make it 1-1.
With words of a half-time rollicking from Ten Cate clearly ringing in their ears, Jazira took the lead just three minutes after the restart when Farfan swept in Mbarak Boussoufa’s left-wing cross.
A minute later, and the home side’s attacking intent yielded further dividends when Mabkhout curled a sweet, right-footed shot into the bottom corner from Thiago Neves’s assist.
The Moroccan international Bousouffa, a close-season capture from Lokomotiv Moscow, was the standout performer for Jazira along with the ever-exceptional Mabkhout.
The pair fashioned a chance for a fourth goal for Jazira, but Yassir Salem deflected Mabkhout’s late effort past the post after the UAE striker had latched on to Bousouffa’s lay-off.