Late push from Al Ahli stars not enough against Baniyas in Arabian Gulf Cup

Ahmed Khalil and the Brazilians Rodrigo Lima and Everton Ribeiro were inserted in the final half-hour in a bid to break the deadlock, but they could find no way past a stubborn Baniyas defense, writes Amith Passela.

Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // Al Ahli’s hopes of a place in the semi-finals in the Arabian Gulf Cup will have to be deferred until their final game against Al Dhafra on December 16.​

The Dubai club returned to action just 48 hours after their 3-0 league defeat at Al Ain and looked out of sorts against a second-string Baniyas on Monday night with coach Cosmin Olaroiu resting several key players.

Olaroiu, who did not attend the post-match press conference, summoned Ahmed Khalil, the recently crowned Asian Player of the Year, and the Brazilians Rodrigo Lima and Everton Ribeiro in the final half-hour in a bid to break the deadlock, but they could find no way past a stubborn Baniyas defence.

They also failed to take advantage of the numerical advantage when the Baniyas defender Hassan Mohammed was sent off for a second yellow card five minutes from time.

Baniyas remain second bottom in Group A on four points and have no chance of reaching the knockout stage, but Luis Garcia, the Baniyas coach, could not have been happier with his young charges for keeping Ahli at bay.

“We are already out of the race in this competition and provided the younger players the opportunity. They did a great job to achieve this result,” he said.

“Our approach wasn’t to play for a draw, but to win, as always. I am happy with their performance. They frustrated their opponents with some good spoiling work in the middle and were solid in defence.”

The result sees Ahli keep third place on nine points, two behind leaders Al Wasl, who play Emirates in their remaining fixture, and one behind Al Nasr, who have completed their Group A assignments, but still with a chance to secure a semi-final berth.

apassela@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE