Luis Garcia proud after Baniyas enter cup Arabian Gulf Cup semi-finals

The Spanish coach, who has turned his side’s fortunes around during the season, oversaw a 2-0 home win over Al Dhafra. Amith Passela reports.

Baniyas showed plenty of desire to win against Al Dhafra on Saturday. Imran Shahid / Al Ittihad
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ABU DHABI // Baniyas took another step in their transformation under Luis Garcia as they booked their spot in the semi-finals of the Arabian Gulf Cup on Saturday night.

The Spanish coach – who has turned his side’s fortunes around after a torrid start to the season – watched Baniyas register to a 2-0 home win over Al Dhafra, who finished with 10 men.

Baniyas were ahead of Dhafra in the table on goal difference and would have gone through even if the game had ended in a draw.

“The game against Dhafra was already like a semi-final, and I’m glad we made it,” Garcia said.

“Of course, we had to be cautious. A goal for either side could have made the difference in such a game, and fortunately, we got it first.”

The red card to Dhafra midfielder Abdulla Al Naqbi near the hour mark, for a second bookable offence, swayed the game in Baniyas’s favour. Bandar Al Ahbabi then found the net, sliding home a cross from Joan Verdu in the 64th minute, and Denis Stracqualursi clinched the win at the end of injury time.

Marion Ion, the Dhafra coach, blamed the sending-off of Al Naqbi as the reason for his side’s defeat.

“It was a crucial time in the game to have a player sent off, and then conceding a goal a few minutes later. Our players couldn’t recover from that setback,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wanderley’s winner in added time powered Sharjah to a 2-1 victory over Emirates in Ras Al Khaimah as they topped Group B.

Rodriguinho put Sharjah ahead in the 33rd minute before an own goal from Shahin Abdulrahman on the hour levelled the scores. Hamdan Qassim was sent off for Emirates in added time.

Al Wahda rounded off their campaign with a consolation away win, 3-1 over Fujairah.

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