Al Wasl return focus on domestic front after AFC Champions League elimination
Al Wasl will return their focus on the domestic front after being eliminated from the AFC Champions League.
Rodolfo Arruabarrena's men went down by a solitary goal to Iran's Persepolis at the Zabeel Stadium on Tuesday night, a result that consigned The Cheetahs to their fourth consecutive defeat.
That left them at the bottom of Group C and out of contention for a spot in the Round of 16 despite two fixtures still left to play.
It means their away trip to Doha to face Al Sadd on April 2 and the last home fixture against Uzbekistan's Nasaf on April 16 will have no bearing on their progress.
This was only their second appearance in the continental competition after they had failed to make it out of the group stages a decade ago.
The Bur Dubai club had begun their campaign with a 1-2 defeat to Al Sadd and then went on to loss to Nasaf by a solitary goal. Al Wasl were then blanked 2-0 by Persepolis.
Al Wasl are third in the Arabian Gulf League with four rounds still left to play out. The Cheetahs are third on 32 points with Al Nasr, their rivals down the road, also on 32 points.
Al Ain lead the table with 41 points followed by Al Wahda on 37 points.
Al Wasl can still win two pieces of silverware this season. The Cheetahs play the second leg of their Arabian Gulf Cup semifinal at the Zabeel Stadium on March 22 with tie against Shabab Al Ahli on a knife's edge following a goalless stalemate at the Rashid Stadium.
Al Wasl are also in the quarterfinals of the prestigious President's Cup.
Returning to the game against Persepolis, Al Wasl actually aced the contest but didn't have the goals nor the result to show for it.
Their first opportunity came five minutes into the game but goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand denied Abdalla Al Naqbi following an assist from Ronalod Mendes.
They had another chance a minute later but Fabio de Lima drilled it over the woodwork following a cross from Ali Saleh.
Persepolis' first attempt came on 21 minutes after Al Wasl shot stopper Yousif Abdulla had handled the ball just outside the box. But Siamak Nemati flashed his freekick way over the cross bar.
Persepolis, coached by former Al Wahda manager Branko Ivankovic, broke the deadlock and what eventually was the winner through Kamal Kamyabinia on 37 minutes.
Hossein Mahini came up with an inch perfect cross following a set piece and Kamyabinia headed it into the bottom left corner of the net.
Al Wasl tried desperately for the equaliser with Fabio de Lima coming close with a header and Mendes' effort denied by Beiranvand. But it was not to be Al Wasl's night.
GOALS & CARDS:
Al Wasl (UAE) 0
(Yellow cards: Abdalla Al Naqbi 17, Yousif Abdulla 21, Abdullah Saleh 31)
(Goal: Kamal Kamyabinia 37. Yellow card: Shojae Khalilzadeh 45+2)