Sharjah, the most decorated club in the 35-year history of the President's Cup, crashed out in the first round of the domestic tournament at the hands of Division One Masafi. A penalty by Masafi's Mohammed Kassed in the sixth minute was offset by a strike by Sharjah's Robert Luciano Brito in the 45th minute, and the clubs went to a penalty shoot-out that Masafi won 4-3 on Monday.
The Masafi club are from the small town of the same name, located in the Hajar Mountains. Masafi stood seventh in their lower-division table before springing a surprise on Sharjah, eight-time winners of the annual competition now known as the President's Cup. Sharjah were not the only Pro League club to be humbled by a Division One opponent on Monday as the 30-club tournament for the nation's top sides began.
Dabba al Fujairah ousted the promoted Dubai club 2-1 thanks to a 90th-minute goal by Diego. Yazid Kaissi had scored in the 45th minute to give Dubai, who are bottom of the Pro League table, a 1-0 lead. Other Pro League teams had little or no trouble dispatching their first-round opponents. Al Wasl thrashed Al Taawon 8-0 as Rashid Essa and Abdulrahman Kolfan each scored twice; Al Jazira delighted their coach, Abel Braga, with a 7-0 thrashing of Ras al Khaimah, with the previously barren Brazilian striker Bare scoring twice; and Al Dhafra scored five goals after two of their players were sent off on the way to a 6-0 victory over the Sharjah enclave of Dibba al Hisn. Abbas Lawal opened the scoring for Dhafra with a goal in the second minute but was sent off in the fifth, followed by Tafiq al Razak in the 31st minute.
Omar Abdulrahman scored in the 24th minute to launch Al Ain to a 5-0 jog past Masfut of Ajman. The Garden City side trail only Sharjah in President's Cup titles, with seven. Al Ahli took advantage of penalties by Mohammed Qassim and Faisal Khalil to roll past Al Rams of RAK 4-0. Ahli played without Fabio Cannavaro, suspended for the match because of accumulated cautions during the Pro League season.
In meetings involving only lower-division sides, Tarek Bilal, Mohammed Saleh and Tariq Darwish scored for Al Quwwat al Musallaha as they defeated Al Jazira al Hamra 3-1, and Ajman, relegated from the Pro League last season, overpowered Hatta 9-1 as Papa Georges scored three goals in the first 32 minutes and Abdullah Salem and Mohammed Zahran each added two. In the round of 16 on February 9, Masafi will try for another shock, this time against Al Ain, and Al Quwwat al Musallaha will face Al Wasl.
Al Wahda, the Pro League champions, and Emirates, the defending President's Cup champions, each received byes into the round of 16. All matches are played at neutral venues. In matches last night, Ismael Bangoura scored twice as Al Nasr shook free from a 2-2 draw at half time to defeat Division One Al Arabi, and Al Oruba overcame a deficit after the first half to oust Al Fujairah 2-1. In last night's games Kalba's shock 4-2 defeat to Al Thaid made them the third Pro League club to be eliminated by Division One opposition. Al Shabab ran out 1-0 victors over Al Shaab, while Baniyas progress after beating Al Khaleej 4-1. @Email:email@example.com
February 9 Al Ahli v Al Dhafra Al Wahda v Ajman Al Wasl v Al Quwwat al Musallaha Masafi v Al Ain February 10 Al Jazira v Al Nasr Emirate v Al Oruba Baniyas v Al Shabab Dibba al Fujairah v Al Thaid