ACL: Lacklustre Al Wahda fail to get past FC Goa

The Emirati club did not make the most of their chances to win the match…

Al Wahda were held to a goalless draw by FC Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the AFC Champions League on Saturday evening. 

Coach Henk ten Cate’s men saw more of the ball but were not clinical enough in front of goal to score against a side who held their fort with every ounce of energy. 

The Dutch manager made a single change from the previous match against Persepolis as Lee Myung-Joo came in place of Khamis Esmaeel. 

Meanwhile, FC Goa’s manager Juan Ferrando named an unchanged XI that earned them a vital point against Al Rayyan in their campaign opener. 

Ismail Matar was in the thick of things right from the beginning with the 38-year-old using his wide range of passing skills to keep his side ticking. 

While on the right, Khalil Ibrahim was the live wire as he kept asking questions of Sanson Pereira with his pace and dribbling skills. 

In fact, the first significant chance of the match fell for Wahda when Goa’s keeper Dheeraj Singh scuffed his clearance but before Matar could pounce, James Donachie rushed in with a crunching challenge to clear the danger. 

Cate was forced to make a substitute in the 15th minute when Abdulla Hamad suffered a serious head injury during an aerial duel with Glan Martins. The midfielder was replaced by Mansoor Al-Harbi who slotted in a similar position. 

FC Goa Al Wahda

Wahda was enjoying the bulk of the possession and kept up the pressure on Goa’s defence but they lacked the creativity which could slice open the gritty backline. 

Fares Juma got a free header from a corner kick after Jesuraj Romario failed to mark him but an alert Dheeraj clung onto the ball.  Tim Matavz also got a rare sight of goal right before half-time but his effort from outside the box did not trouble the Indian shot-stopper. 

However, in the second half, it was a more open game as both sides started carving out goal scoring chances. Goa’s Brandon Fernandes the woodwork, whereas at the other Omar Khribin failed to score past Dheeraj even after getting an unmarked opportunity to head home the ball. 

Around the hour mark, Matar was brought down inside the box by Ivan Gonzalez and although the whole bench of Wahda was convinced that it was a penalty, the referee had other ideas. 

Goa had another chance to break the deadlock when Fernandes found Devendra Murgaonkar inside the box but Al Shamsi pulled off a stunning close range save to keep the scorelines unchanged. 

In the final five minutes, Al Wahda threw everything they had to crack Goa’s defence but failed in their attempts. Dheeraj made a stunning save to deny Khribin late into stoppage time and at the final whistle, the UAE Pro League club had heads in their hands. 

Al Wahda remain winless after two matches and are on the fourth spot with one point from two matches. They will next face Al Rayyan on Tuesday. 


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