Dubai: Al Ain commenced their title defence with a convincing 3-1 win against Emirates Club in Ras Al Khaimah, while Fujairah Club and 10-man Bani Yas played out a 1-1 draw in the battle of newly promoted teams in the opening round of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) on Friday.
Mohammad Benyettou, Bernie Ibini Isei and Pedro Conde joined a long list of foreign players scoring on their AGL debut in two contrasting matches played in hot and humid conditions. The 28-year-old Benyettou, who transferred from Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab, became the sixth foreign player to score on his AGL debut to give Fujairah the lead in the 20th minute.
He was later joined by Isei — who got the equaliser for Emirates Club — and Bani Yas’s Conde as both teams dropped valuable points in their opening round matches. The trio of foreign players joined the likes of Ryan Mendes, Igor Coronado and Welliton Morais (all Sharjah), Ajman’s Mame Baba and Al Wasl’s Vinicius Lima who had all scored during their opening matches on Thursday.
Al Ain’s title defence, meanwhile, got off to a perfect start with Egyptian Hussain Al Shahat giving them the lead in the second minute. But 25-year-old Australian Isei brought Emirates level in the 18th minute with a left-footer from the edge of the area, only to see last season’s top scorer Marcus Berg put The Boss clear a second time with a header in the 21st minute for a 2-1 half-time cushion. In the second half, Al Ain guaranteed full points when Caio Fernandes got his name on the scoresheet in the 78th minute.
In the second early match, Fujairah made full use of their one-man advantage to get an early goal against fellow debutants Bani Yas, who were reduced to ten men in the 18th minute following a straight red card for Faisal Ahmad Al Antali. The home side made that count within two minutes as Algerian Benyettou accepted a quickly-taken corner and smashed in from a narrow angle.
Down by a man and with heat and humid playing a crucial role, Bani Yas struggled to cope with the tempo set by Ivan Hasek’s team. In the second half it didn’t get any better for Bani Yas, but they simply stuck to the plan and got an equaliser in the 61st minute when Conde’s quick turn at the end of the area saw him get past his marker and place past the Fujairah goalkeeper.
Emirates Club 1 Al Ain 3
Fujairah 1 Bani Yas 1