Three teams set an early pace

The UAE Pro-League had an early start this season 
because of the national 
team’s commitments

By James Jose

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Published: Sat 11 Sep 2010, 10:52 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:53 AM

Two games into the UAE Pro-League, three teams set the early pace, a coach was sacked and a goalkeeper suffered serious injuries.

The UAE Pro-League, the country’s top flight of football. had an early start this season because of the UAE National team’s commitments.

The League started during the Holy Month of Ramadan, and though the games were a 10 pm start to help the players recover after a full day of fasting, the extreme humid conditions took its toll on the players. Most of the coaches, especially Al Jazira coach Abel Braga was vocal about the early start and its effect on the players.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi clubs Al Ain, Al Jazira and Bani Yas were early pace-setters as the League took a two-week break because of the National team’s commitments as well as Eid.

Nine-time champions Al Ain top the table despite being level on six points with Al Jazira and Bani Yas, because of their goal difference. Al Ain have scored seven and conceded three. Al Ain under Emirati coach Abdul Hameed Al Mishtiki, opened their season with a game against promoted club Dubai FC at home.

While most expected it to be a cakewalk, the nine-time champions and winners of the President’s Cup and the Etisalat Emirates in the 2008-2009 season, were stretched the distance by a resolute Dubai FC, who almost threatened to take the match away from them. Al Ain eventually held their nerves to escape with a 4-3 win.

There were two missed penalties with their Argentine forward Jose Sand being guilty. But he made up for it second time around, slotting it home on the rebound. Sand scored a brace, while Omar Abdulrahman and Abdulaziz Fayez scored one each.

Then, in the second game against Al Nasr away, Al Ain came up with a far more convincing performance to win 3-0. Sand scored a brace again, whil Abdulaziz Fayez scored the other. The four goals put Sand on top of the goalscorers’ chart, followed by Marcelinho of Sharjah with three goals.

Al Jazira, though, had a strong start to the season again. They swamped Al Nasr 3-0 at home at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium with Khalid Sabeel, Abdulla Mousa and Ahmed Jumaa being the scorers. In their next match away in Sharjah, Jazira beat Al Sharjah 2-1. Abdulla Mousa and captain Ibrahim Diaky netted for Jazira. Jazira have always started a season well before tapering off at the fag end. It remains to be seen if they can hold it all together till the end with new foreign signings forward Bare and attacking midfielder Matias Emilio Delgado in their ranks.

Bani Yas are the other club to maintain an unbeaten record in the two games. They started with a solitary goal win against Al Shabab away with Andre Senghor scoring the match winner. They followed that up by blanking Al Dhafra 2-0 at home. Andre Senghor and Fouzi Basheer scored for Bani Yas.

Meanwhile, defending champions Al Wahda had a wretched start to the season losing their season opening game to Al Wasl away. Al Wahda lost 0-2. It followed a loss to demoted club Emirates in the season-opening Super Cup.

Al Wahda made amends in their second game, defeating promoted club Ittihad Kalba 3-1 at home. But their first points in the League did little to save coach Laszlo Boloni his job. The Romanian was shown the door and Wahda brought in Brazilian Adenor Leonardo Bacchi, better known as ‘Tite,’ to arrest the slide.

Tite previously had coached Al Ain. Expectations are high on Al Wahda as they look to defend their title as well as put up a good show in the FIFA Club World Cup to be held in Abu Dhabi in December. Al Wahda qualified for the Club World Cup after winning the UAE Pro-League last season.

Meanwhile Al Ain and UAE goalkeeper Yousuf Abdul Rahman was involved in a horrible car accident which left him seriously injured. Yousuf Abdul Rahman was on his way to training on the eve of the game against Al Nasr when the accident occurred.

Al Jazira will be hoping that they can translate their start to a title challenge, after finishing runners-up for three years on the trot.

The League resumes on September 16.

james@khaleejtimes.com



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