Al Ahli, Al Arabi launch new season with convincing wins

August 22, 2014 - 12:59:49 am
Al Arabi’s Imoh Ezekiel (centre) fights for the ball with an Al Khor defender while goalkeeper Baba Djibril looks on during a Qatar Stars League match at Al Arabi Stadium in Doha yesterday. Pictures: Baher Amin

DOHA: Al Ahli got the better of Al Sailiya in the first game of the new Qatar Stars League (QSL) season while Al Arabi defeated Al Khor later in the evening at Al Arabi Stadium yesterday.

Al Arabi went ahead in the 25th minute through a penalty taken by B. Khoukhi. They dominated possession and scored again in the 35th minute through I. Ezekiel. Al Khor managed to pull one back through Madson in the 79th minute but P. Hernandez gave Al Arabi a two goal lead again in the 88th minute. 

The score line of the earlier game painted a flattering picture of Al Ahli’s performance but the Brigadiers struggled for large parts of the game. However, Al Ahli displayed some clinical counter attacks.

The fixture schedule saw two games played at the Grand Hamad Stadium, also known as the Al Arabi Stadium, in an effort to draw crowds for the advertised Gaza support initiative. All the clubs involved in yesterday’s matches decided to donate all of their match proceeds to the people of Gaza. Before the match, the league provided an array of events and activities outside the stadium. 

Inside the stadium at half-time, there was more entertainment for fans, including music and a performance by the Philippine School of Doha.

Dioko for Al Ahli looked sharp,  causing problems around the box and in the ninth minute last season’s top scorer had his first crack on goal but the shot was straight at the keeper.

Alain Dioko of Al Ahli (right) is tackled by Ghanem Haddaf of Al Sailiya during their QSL match at the Al Arabi Stadium yesterday.  PICTURE: BAHER AMIN

Sailiya was playing a high line and looked fragile at the back. They managed to keep Al Ahli encamped in their own half, which meant that the Brigadiers had to play on the counter attack. Dioko was increasingly becoming an isolated figure.

After 30 minutes, both sides were instructed by the referee to take their water break after which Sailiya continued where they had left off.

The first yellow card of the match came in the 39th minute when Mohammed Salah El Neel brought down Dioko with a cynical challenge.

Then, against the run of play Mojtaba Jabari scored a guileful header as Bilal Abdelrahman gave the assist from the corner.

At half-time Al Ahli went into the break one up and Trabelsi had to rally his troops after a decent performance that saw them come close on many occasions.

Just after the restart, however, Al Ahli went on a devastating counter attack with a goal in the 48th minute. It was the second of the night for Mojtaba Jabari; the midfielder was having a game to remember.

In the 74th minute, Mohammed Elneel finally got his side on the score sheet with a clever finish. With the keeper anticipating the cross, Elneel calmly finished in the bottom right instead.

With Sailiya pushing forward more and more they left themselves open at the back and in the 89th minute, Dioko finally got his goal. The striker was unstoppable with a fierce run past three defenders to nestle the ball into the bottom left corner with his left footed effort.

Then, in added time Mulotal Kabungu gave the greens a flattering score line with the fourth goal of the night.