Hector Cuper hopes Al Wasl’s 2-1 victory over Arabian Gulf League (AGL) leaders Al Ahli is a sign of things to come for the resurgent Cheetahs at Zabeel Stadium. Wasl’s form has picked up since Cuper was appointed as Laurent Banide’s successor last month, with wins over Dubai (3-1) and Ajman (2-1) in the AGL and the President’s Cup respectively either side of a high-scoring draw (3-3) with Al Wahda.
However, those three clubs are currently entrenched in the bottom half of the league ladder and the only time Wasl have come up against higher-calibre opposition under Cuper’s reign, they came off decidedly second best in a 6-1 drubbing by Al Nasr.
That discrepancy changed though on Sunday night, when second-half strikes from Andre Senghor (67) and Maher Jassim (88) overturned Ciel’s opening goal (38) to inflict a first defeat of this AGL season on Cosmin Olaroiu’s pace-setting Red Knights. “All of my players performed very well against a very strong side in Al Ahli, who are one of the best teams in the league here,” said Cuper, who hailed his side’s fighting spirit after the break and singled out midfielder Khalifa Abdulla for special praise.
“Khalifa Abdulla, in particular, went man-to-man with Hugo Viana and he controlled the midfield. “He played a very important role today (Sunday) by marshalling Hugo Viana and also providing a platform for our own attacks. The rhythm of my team and the performance level of the players increased in the second half and they fought to win; they showed a good fighting spirit. This win will put us on the right track. We have some points to work on and rectify to avoid these mistakes in the future, but I’m very happy about winning this match.”
Elsewhere, Ahmed Khamis’ 61st- minute winner was enough for Sharjah to defeat Bani Yas 1-0 at Sharjah Stadium.
Journalists are reported to be among the men who were forcefully searched
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