Abu Dhabi: The UAE became undisputed kings of Gulf football as Bani Yas won the GCC Champions League title on Thursday night, beating Al Khor from Qatar 2-0, to add to the Gulf Cup won by the Emirates’ national team in January.
With the scores tied at 1-1 from the first leg in Qatar, Egyptian striker Mohammad Abu Trika put Bani Yas into the lead after 25 minutes following a free-kick from Nawaf Mubarak. The ball was headed down to him by Andre Senghor and, after first being denied by keeper Papa Djibril and then a defender, Abu Trika scored at the third attempt.
And Abu Trika returned the favour to Nawaf in the 79th minute, setting him up for a trademark fierce shot that flew into the top corner to secure Bani Yas’ first ever Gulf title.
A minute before the second goal, Saudi referee Merri Al Awaji sent off Al Khor defender Reda Shanbaih for a second yellow card in the space of three minutes. He was booked in the 75th minute for a foul on Nawaf and again in the 78th for another offence on Christian Wilhelmsson — and the UAE club punished him by scoring the second goal from the resulting free-kick.
Salem Al Orfi, Bani Yas’ caretaker coach, said after the match: “I dedicate this victory to our leaders for their continuous support to the sector of youth and sports and to Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and President of Bani Yas Club, for his support and encouragement for us, and to our loyal fans who supported us in this crucial match.”
Shaikh Saif attended the match and sat among the club’s fans. He later presented the trophies and medals to the two teams along with Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, President of the Asian Football Confederation and Chairman of the GCC Football Organising Committee, the organisers of the championship.
“I also thank the players for their spirited performance and their determination to win the title. It is always good to win a trophy and it is even sweeter to win a trophy for the first time ever. It is a victory for all the UAE clubs and not only for Bani Yas,” Al Orfi said.
Asked about his future with Bani Yas, Al Orfi said he is at the service of his club in whichever role they want him to work.