Laszlo Boloni, the Al Wahda coach, blamed his team's wastefulness in front of goal for their stunning loss to Emirates in the season-opening Super Cup. Wahda, the Pro League champions, dominated from the kick-off and carved out several early chances but still found themselves 2-0 down by half time. Emirates went on to win the Friday night showdown 3-1.
"I think we started well and we had most of the ball possession," Boloni said. "In my opinion, we had many chances of scoring in the first half hour, I think three or four possibilities, but we did not do it. "For this reason, the god of football, he punished us. You have three or four big opportunities, but then you give a gift to them and it becomes 1-0. I was thinking we could come back because it is not normal to waste so many chances, have the ball for so much time and not score."
Adnan al Beloshi scored the first goal for Emirates, the President's Cup winners who will play in Division One this season after being relegated from the Pro League last term. Karim Kerkar added a magnificent second just before half time, dribbling past four Wahda defenders. "What is really sad is the second goal, when the one good player for the opposite team, Kerkar, is in a very short space, he can keep the ball and put three players out of the game," said Boloni, who replaced Josef Hickersberger after Wahda's Pro League triumph in May. "It was a nice goal and I have to say congratulations to Kerkar, but I have a few words to exchange with my players as well."
Kerkar, the Emirates captain, scored the final goal two minutes from time after Fernando Baiano had given Wahda a lifeline with an 80th minute strike. Ghazi Ghrairi, the Emirates coach, said his players were confident going into the game. "We focused a lot on the play and we prepared ourselves really well," he said. "We had scrutinised the Al Wahda team from their last friendly game. "Our plan was to counter-attack and we managed to succeed. We were also successful in closing the game for Wahda. I thank my players for this, their work ethic on the field and the tactical work done in the game."
Boloni had rallied his troops at half time and things seemed to be turning for them when al Beloshi was sent off in the 63rd minute for a second booking. Wahda's numerical advantage, however, last only nine minutes as Mohammed al Shehi, a second-half substitute, picked up his second yellow card for a dive inside the penalty box. "At half time I told them we can lose the game, that is not the problem, but I need one goal," Boloni said. "This goal sadly arrived a little bit late.
"We also had a problem when al Shehi made a simulation. If he did it, I don't know because I am so far [away]. But you cannot do this if you have one yellow card. Anyway, I think the god of football was present and he decided that the team who wants more, he gives a little present for them." Ismail Matar became the second Wahda player to be sent off when he picked up an unnecessary second yellow for taking a shot after the referee had already blown for off-side.
The national team striker later petulantly threw his runners-up medal into the crowd. Boloni defended his player. "The first yellow card, I do not really understand why he received it," he said. "I spoke to him in the dressing room ? The second yellow card, he swung in the ball. I know the rules say that you have to, but I think the philosophy of the referee was not good." Ghrairi said the victory would give Emirates a boost for the regular season, and also for the Asian Champions League.
"This is a huge moral triumph for the team," he said. "This will ... give a momentum to the players, who are capable, as we have just seen, of doing well in the competitions at home and the Asian Champions League. "The Asian Champions League will see the cream of our players participating. We are determined to give a good show and honour the country. The Emirates club will not take part in the tournament just for the sake of participation."
Wahda will open the Pro League regular season on Thursday night against Al Wasl. firstname.lastname@example.org