Dubai: The opening two matches of the Arabian Gulf Cup ended in stalemates with Al Wasl and Bani Yas dropping valuable points.
Former Utrecht striker Leroy George found his 23rd-minute free kick cancelled out by an 86th-minute penalty from Vander Viera as Ajman fought back for a 1-1 draw against Bani Yas, while the Al Wasl strikeforce failed to click in a goalless draw against hard-working Kalba in the second Group A encounter.
Al Wasl have themselves to blame for the dropped points as they missed many chances throughout the 90 minutes of play. Fabio De Lima alone had at least four clear opportunities on goal, starting with the first one in the 12th minute when he combined with Ronaldo Mendes and then shot out with no one to challenge him.
The Brazilian’s second chance came in the 22nd minute when he found himself open in front of goal following a free-kick taken by Mendes. But last season’s top-scorer for the Cheetahs volleyed wide with not even Mohammad Al Bairaq on goal. Lima, who has been with the Al Zabeel club since July 2014, missed a third opportunity in the 40th minute when he ploughed his way through and shot wide while being heckled by Hamdan Al Baroud.
Lima missed yet again in the 50th minute when he picked up a ball at the top of the area and shot only to find the framework and bounce back harmlessly into play.
Coach Gustavo Quinteros brought in a fourth Brazilian, Vinicius De Lima, but that did little as the home team went all out for that elusive goal. In fact, it was Vinicius who came close to scoring in the 56th minute but goalkeeper Al Bairaq thwarted him from close range.
A rare Kalba attack in the 71st nearly resulted in a shock winner but substitute Mana Al Baroud saw his attempt rebound after striking the crossbar. Al Wasl have never won this trophy, previously known as the Etisalat Emirates Cup, the closest they came was last season when they ended up as runners-up after losing 2-1 to Al Wahda in the final.
Joining Al Wasl and Kalba in Group A are two-time defending champions Al Wahda, three-time winners Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, Ajman and Bani Yas.
Al Wasl 0 Kalba 0
Ajman 1 Bani Yas 1