Mabkhout nets winner in Al Jazira's win over Kalba
Mana Al Baroud of Ittihad Kalba and Salim Rashid of Al Jazira in action during the President's Cup at Dubai Stadium on Tuesday
Dubai - The win against the First Divisioner side took The Pride of Abu Dhabi into the President's Cup quarterfinals
By Clareto Monsorate
Published: Tue 16 Jan 2018, 7:48 PM
Last updated: Tue 16 Jan 2018, 9:54 PM
Substitute Ali Mabkhout rose to the occasion with a clinical header in the 75th minute to take Al Jazira past Ittihad Kalba 1-0 at the Shabab Al Ahli Stadium in Al Awir on Tuesday.
The win against the First Divisioner side took The Pride of Abu Dhabi into the President's Cup quarterfinals.
It was a morale-boosting victory for the Abu Dhabi side especially after they were coming off a bad patch. Their last win came on 21-12-2017 against Ajman in the Arabian Gulf Cup. After that, the bubble burst and they lost to Hatta and Dibba Al Fujairah. The 4-2 defeat againt Al Wahda in the Arabian Gulf League was equally demoralising until they got some respite after a draw with Ajman.
The rustiness, or tiredness, one would say could be put down to some of their players, who played 11 games in 30 days, according to their coach Hendrik Ten Cate, who seemed helpless and at the same time peeved with the scheduling of matches.
"Playing in the Club World Cup was mentally very strong. We gave a lot and need to recover from that. Six of my players represented the national team at the Gulf Cup," Ten Cate said as he threw his hands up in frustration.
The coach who had planned on resting Ali Mabkhout at first was forced to play him after the match was meandering to a draw. And, the star striker was spot on with the winning header.
Earlier, it was Kalba who called the shots with Omar Mansouri coming close to coring when his 25-yard pile-driver struck the crosspiece and went out. Then Fares Juma denied Mansouri with a good tackle.
Jazira were all at sea and even Ali Khaseif almost goofed up with a return pass from Juma. The goalkeeper miskicked the ball, which landed at the feet of Mansouri at the top of the box, but the tall striker ended up with a poor shot.
Jazira thought they had gone 1-0 up in injury time of the first half but Romario da Silva was pulled up for offside.
The second half, apart from the goal, just dragged on.
Ittihad Kalba coach Jorvan Vieira was proud of his boys but cautioned that there is work to be done.
"It was a good match but we need to work on our finishing," the Brazilian said.