AL NAHDA BOWS OUT OF ACLPLAYOFFS

El Jaish’s Romarinho (centre) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the late winner against Oman’s Al Nahda in their Asian Champions League playoff in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday. The Qatari club rallied from a goal down to win 2-1

Al Nahda’s hopes of advancing in the playoff stage of the Asian Champions League (ACL) were dealt a big blow when Oman’s domestic league champion conceded two late goals to lose 1-2 to hosts El Jaish of Qatar in Doha on Tuesday.

Goals from El Jaish’s Brazilian duo of Wagner Ribeiro and Romarinho in the final 12 minutes saved the Qatari club from suffering an upset after Al Nahda had taken an early lead in the preliminary round playoff game.

Samba El Voullany opened the scoring in the fourth minute for the Omani champion at the Al Gharafa Stadium, after which the visitors’ defence held out for long spells of pressure from El Jaish.

But Ribeiro found a way through in the 78th minute before Romarinho, in added time, completed the come-from-behind victory for the home side, which had reached the round of 16 in the 2013 tournament.

El Jaish will travel to Iran next Tuesday to face Naft Tehran for a place in Group B alongside Uzbek champion Pakhtakor, Saudi Arabian club Al Shabab and inaugural ACL winner Al Ain of UAE.

Al Nahda, which has never participated in the ACL before but reached the semifinals of the 2008 AFC Cup, got off to the perfect start in Doha.

Said al Ruzaiqi launched a quick attack and sent the ball into the path of El Voullany and the Mauritanian forward powered ahead before firing in a ferocious shot from the edge of the area, which flew under the hands of

El Jaish goalkeeper Saoud Mubarak.

El Jaish restored parity when substitute Ribeiro converted a free-kick from just outside the penalty area that had been won by fellow second-half replacement Romarinho.

Romarinho, a former Corinthians forward, had the last laugh as Abdulqadir Ilyas sent a cross from the right into the area, which Al Nahda defender Mohamed Montassar failed to clear. Romarinho found enough time to fire the ball into the roof of the net past Al Nahda keeper Sulaiman al Breiki.

El Jaish coach Sabri Lamouchi admitted that his players struggled to deal with an ‘organised’ Al Nahda side.

“The victory was hard for us because we faced an organised opponent, who made it difficult for us to create chances and reach their goal; and when we did, our players failed to score from those chances,” he said.

Lamouchi, who coached Ivory Coast at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, added, “We are now in the next round and things will be harder for us because we will be playing away.”

Lamouchi’s counterpart in the Al Nahda dugout, Mohsin Darwish, was happy with his players’ performance and felt that ‘greater experience’ of the Qatari club made a difference.

“We put El Jaish under big pressure as the match nearly ended in a draw before we eventually lost,” said Darwish.

“The early lead gave us a lot of confidence, but the lack of experience was our weakness. We had studied our opponents and we knew the match will be very hard. The experience of El Jaish players was vital today.”

Darwish will now helm his side in the AFC Cup and will be up against Jordan’s Al Wehdat and Syria’s Al Wahda in Group A along with the winner of Salam Zgharta of Lebanon and Tajikistan’s Khayr Vahdat, who meet in a playoff on Tuesday.

SOURCE: MUSCAT DAILY