Al Jazira thrash Emirates 4-0 in AGL

Whoever is the next coach to jump onto the carousel at Al Jazira, a bright future is possible for them.

A youthful Pride of Abu Dhabi impressed during their first Arabian Gulf League-assignment yesterday against Emirates Club since Abel Braga’s doomed return was brought to a merciful end last weekend.

Matt Monaghan
by Matt Monaghan
19th December 2015

article:19th December 2015

Thiago Neves was a constant thorn in Emirates' side.
Thiago Neves was a constant thorn in Emirates' side.

Whoever is the next coach to jump onto the carousel at Al Jazira, a bright future is possible for them.

A youthful Pride of Abu Dhabi impressed during their first Arabian Gulf League-assignment against Emirates Club since Abel Braga’s doomed return was brought to a merciful end last weekend.


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As he became the seventh boss sacked within the last four years, the Brazilian left a club in disarray following an intolerable 4-0 thrashing by Fujairah.

Braga’s replacement is either imminent or expected after the festive period, judging by who you listen to. In the absence of the new man, a promising display saw a solid 4-0 win earned – just their second in two-and-a-half months – against the Falcons.

A fresh start brought fresh impetus in front of a disappointingly-deserted Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. Electricity returned to the players’ legs, while a coherent tactical plan was visible under caretaker Ali Al Jneibi.

 

 

Youngsters Salem Ali, Ahmed Rabea and Mohamed Jamal were lively. Reinvigorated senior stars Ali Mabkhout, Thiago Neves and Park Jong-woo knitted it all together.

Solidity re-emerged, the porous defence which had previously conceded 25 times in 11 appearances keeping front men Rodrigo Pimpao and Wilmar Jordan quiet.

Ali – utilised in central midfield – was exceptional throughout, a lofted ball being dispatched with aplomb by Neves who finally resembled something like the Brazil playmaker expensively recruited from Al Hilal this summer. The 22-year-old’s fellow junior Sultan Al Shamsi got the goal of the game to make it 3-0, curling home to evidence his exciting talent.

The swagger also returned to UAE forward Mabkhout, whose body language and output degenerated under Braga. His sixth and seventh AGL strikes this term for the top scorer at the 2015 Asian Cup followed, skimming in a half-volley and cheekily chipping in on the final whistle from an acute angle.

 

 

With this squad, Braga criminally underachieved during his baneful six months in charge. Last term’s second-placed finishers under Eric Gerets should not have languished in 11th, this display providing all the evidence the trigger-happy Jazira hierarchy required to justify the early removal of the man who won so many trophies from 2008-11.

A new dawn was present on both the team sheet and during the warm-up. Former Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia shook the rust off Khalid Alsenaani, while respected former Roma, Real Madrid, England and Russia fitness coach Massimo Neri put the outfield players through their paces.

Freshly-installed director of football Gianluca Nani watched from the stands, the experienced ex-West Ham United and Watford official set to play a key role in identifying the next supremo. He can tell any targets they have fine materials to work with after this.

 

 

Jazira began on the front foot, Neves forcing an awkward save from Ahmed Alshaji with a snapped drive from 20 yards.

The 30-year-old got the scoring under way soon after, lashing in with his left foot after a swivelled chest control from Ali’s pin-point, 40-yard pass put him in behind. The assist maker missed a sitter with a close-range header before the break, though his side were not to be punished.

Mabkhout’s half-volley skimmed along the turf on 49 minutes after he was played into a pocket of space on the edge of the area.

Pimpao’s side-footed effort then deflected narrowly wide as Emirates tried in vain to prevent a fifth-consecutive loss in all competitions. All their hope was lost on 71 minutes as Jazira’s soared, Al Shamsi’s energy from the bench seeing the 19-year-old left-back drive on from 30 yards before curling sublimely home into the top corner.

Mabkhout almost matched him at the death, stylishly placing over the stranded Alshaji from the goal line.


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