Dubai: Carlos Inarejos admits his team are not the best, but the coach believes Al Hilal can go all the way to a second title following a 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Shabab Al Ahli Dubai at the ongoing Ninth Dubai International U16 Football Championship on Friday.
Matched for a major part of the opening half, Al Hilal opened their score from the penalty spot in the 34th minute through Abdullah Hadi Radif, while Khalid Ali Noman Al Asbahi slammed from the edge of the area to make it 2-0 on the 40th minute. Three minutes later, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai’s miseries were further compounded after Hamdan Humaid Hassan Ahmad was given his marching orders for a second yellow card.
Though content with the scoreline and the guarantee of three points, the 2016 champions Al Hilal continued to dominate and found two more goals within five minutes at the end of the second half. Radif made his way to the top of the individual scorers’ list with his second of the evening in the 79th minute, while Musab Fahad’s free kick in the 84th minute gave Shabab Al Ahli Dubai goalkeeper Moosa Abdullah Al Baloushi no chance as the Saudis completed the rout.
Meanwhile, pre-tournament semi-final favourites Borussia Dortmund continued with their struggles after being held to a 2-2 draw by Al Wasl in the second Group A match later in the evening. Friday’s results see Al Hilal qualify for the semi-finals with a maximum six points from two games, while the fight for the second spot is wide open with Borussia Dortmund and Al Wasl (one point each) chasing Shabab Al Ahli Dubai (3 pts).
Dortmund, who had conceded two goals during injury time in their opener before losing 2-3 to Al Hilal on Wednesday, could not find their rhythm against Al Wasl — 3-0 losers against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai in their opener.
Al Hilal coach Inarejos remained undeterred by the other results or their next group match against Al Wasl on Sunday as he looked at the bigger picture. “Being assured of the semi-final doesn’t mean we forget our immediate task. Our next match is against Al Wasl and we need to think on how we continue the good work that we are doing,” Inarejos told Gulf News.
“The beauty of my team is that they can adapt to any opponent. If they need to play the long game, then they do that. If they have to stick close together then they are adaptable to that style as well. But we need to continue evolving as a group and be prepared to play any team once we reach the knockout stages,” he cautioned.
“From what I have seen so far, Flamengo and Atletico Madrid are the two best teams this year. But at Al Hilal we believe we can beat everyone, even the best. And once again we are here to prove exactly that,” the Spaniard added.
Sunday Al Wasl v Al Hilal, 4.45pm
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai v Borussia Dortmund, 7.30pm