Al Shabab, Ajman start with a bang in Etisalat Cup

DUBAI — Defending champions Al Shabab came from behind to stamp a convincing 4-1 victory over Bani Yas in Etisalat Cup opener at the Maktoum bin Rashid Stadium here on Thursday evening.

By Hisham Al Gizouli

Published: Fri 16 Sep 2011, 11:30 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:17 AM

Nawaf Mubarak put Bani Yas ahead in the 18th minute of the first half and Julio Cesar levelled the score in the 26th minute.

Azizbek Haydarov added the second and third goals at the half-hour mark and the opening minutes of the second half.

Cesar made it 4-1 with a beautiful hide and seek one-two with Ciel from the mouth of the box.

Both teams were reduced to 10-man each during the match. UAE referee Mohammed Abdul Karim sent off Abdulla Darweesh in the 75th minute and Bani Yas right back Thamer Mohammed followed five minutes later.

In another clash, promoted Ajman earned a well deserved 3-1 home win over former champions and star-studded 10-man Al Ahli at the Rashid Stadium in Ajman.

Waleed Ali, Oliveira and Ibrahima Toure struck for Ajman as Jaja netted the consolation goal for the Red Knights.

Al Ahli were reduced to 10 men when Ismail Al Hammadi was sent off at the beginning of the first half. Al Shabab’s Uzbek midfielder Azizbek Haydarov has virtually stole the limelight on his UAE debut as he proved his worth with an amazing display.

The 26-year-old former Locomotive Tashkent and Bunyodkor playmaker did everything right to make his presence felt from the word go, and managed to form a formidable partnership with Julio Cesar in the operations area.

The top players denied their opponents any access to the dangerous zone by lending a helpful hand to the defenders and providing spoon-fed passes to Ciel and Villanueva upfront.

Bani Yas were apparently hard hit with the absence of players in the calibre and size of Zeyab Awana, Amer Abdul Rahman and Mohammed Fawzi, a few to mention, who are currently with the Olympic national team in Australia.

This is in the addition to the experienced Omani pro Fawzi Basheer and injured winger Haboush Saleh.

But, it proved again that ‘famous players’ cannot always be the best solution for a team. David Trezeguet was completely isolated from the rest of the team and had a strong feeling of being a stranger.

There was no great harmony between him and other players in the team. But, this may be attributed to the fact that it was his first start with his new side under a different atmosphere and weather conditions when compared to the Serie A or France national team.

There’s no doubt that the Frenchman didn’t have sufficient days’ preparations in the lead up to the match which didn’t include a single training match.

So it would be premature to make a fair judgment on the true form of the great France and Juventus attacker.

When most of the players didn’t come together in pre-season preparations, new comers need to work hard to ensure that they are fit for what could be the most tough season for UAE football.

Contrary to early expectations, the big names proved once again that they alone could not attract UAE fans to the stadiums.

Less than 50 spectators, including the two teams’ players, technical staff and workers were seen at the Maktoum bin Rashid Stadium to watch the game which featured Al Shabab against Bani Yas.

The same scenario was repeated during the other game between Ajman and Al Ahli at Rasid Stadium in Ajman.

However, some of UFL officials said they were optimistic that with the progress of the competitions coupled with the decrease in the temperatures and humidity, there is a very good chance to see bigger crowds in all venues.

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