Abu Dhabi: Ahmad Khalil carried his UAE national team form in the Asian Cup to his club Shabab Al Ahli as well as his late winner allowed them to take three valuable points against Al Jazira in the Round 14 of the Arabian Gulf League at Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium on Monday.
The loss was a blow for Al Jazira as they are now in danger of slipping into the third spot after 14 matches. Al Ain are currently third on goal difference with the same number of points (28) but from 12 matches.
Shabab Al Ahli are also tied on 28 points but is occupying the fourth spot of goal-difference.
Despite the setback, Al Jazira head coach Damien Hertog chose not to blame his players’ for the loss. “During the first half, we controlled the game and we played well in their half.
“The game was tense and it was obvious that the first team who scored would go on and win the game. We had a good opportunity to score through Ernest Asante, but unfortunately he didn’t manage to take it this time,” said Hertog during the post-match press conference.
“It was really frustrating for us that we conceded in stoppage time. All my players gave 100 per cent but it wasn’t enough on the night.”
Al Jazira went into the match without key players including Sebastien Siani, Khalifa Al Hammadi and Salim Al Eidi suspended. Mohammad Jamal and Salim Abdullah were also ruled out due to injury.
However, Hertog chose not to use that as an excuse and vowed that the team would bounce back against Fujairah next week. “I don’t want to give excuses, but we were affected by the absence of some players and this caused a loss of harmony. We were hoping to get the three points to restart the season, but now we must focus to win the next game.”
Ajman’s Vander Vieira, meanwhile, saved the day for his side with a late penalty conversion in injury time to steal a 2-2 draw against Al Nasr at Rashid Bin Saeed Stadium.
Following the draw, Al Nasr remain ninth in the standings with 16 points and are set to face Sharjah on February 14. Ajman occupy the sixth spot with 19 points and will be meeting Shabab Al Ahli in the next round.
Ajman shot into lead in the 34th minute following an own goal scored by Joan Oumari, who ended up finding his own net trying to clear a Vieira free-kick.
However, the lead didn’t last long, Sergio Junior found Negredo with a measured cross from the right and the latter hammered the ball into the back of the net with a powerful header. At half time both team lead 1-1.
Al Nasr then shot into lead in the 71st minute. Habib Al Fardan found Junior inside the box and the Brazilian sent a low cross for Negredo, who tapped home with ease.
Just when it looked like Al Nasr would hold on to their lead till the end, Ajman were awarded a penalty — fourth minutes into injury time. Negredo handled the ball inside the box and Vieira made no mistake from the spot to steal a draw from the jaws of defeat.