Welliton's first-half hat-trick sees Sharjah go top of AGL after 6-3 win over Al Nasr

Denzil Pinto 14/09/2018
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Prolific: Welliton (right)

Welliton stole the show with four goals as Sharjah went top of the Arabian Gulf League after running rampant against Al Nasr in their 6-3 victory on Friday.

The Brazilian opened the scoring in the eighth minute from the penalty spot after Nasr defender Mubarak Saeed handled the ball. The hosts doubled their tally seven minutes later when Igor Coronado converted from the spot after being fouled.

Sharjah continued to press forward and Welliton made it three for Sharjah just before the half-hour mark when he headed home a corner. There was still time for the 31-year-old to complete his hat-trick before half-time and the forward made it 4-0 in style as he netted home a rebound after Nasr goalkeeper Mohammed Yousef stopped a long-range effort.

Ivan Jovanovic and Nasr fans were left stunned when Ryan Mendes’ superb solo strike made it 5-0 to Sharjah.

Before the referee blew his half-time whistle, there was some hope for the visitors when former Newcastle and PSG midfielder Yohan Cabaye and Igor Lirio’s penalty made it 5-2.

Sharjah were given a brief scare when Marcos Gabriel made it 5-3, seven minutes after the restart. But that proved to be the last goal for Nasr as Welliton struck his fourth goal four minutes from time.

It was Sharjah’s second consecutive victory while Jovanovic is still searching for his first league win of the season.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Tagliabue netted twice as Al Wahda came from behind to win 4-1 against Dibba – a result that leaves them second in the league. Mourad Batna cancelled out Ahmed Khameis’ opener before Tagliabue gave the Clarets the lead. Leonardo converted from the spot to make it 3-1 before Tagliabue doubled his tally for the evening.

In other results, Bani Yas were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Al Wasl while Kalba defeated Emirates 2-0.

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Zoran Mamic bemoans lack of preparation with international players for AGL clash

Denzil Pinto 14/09/2018
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Zoran Mamic is not happy.

Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic has questioned the scheduling of this weekend’s Arabian Gulf League clash with Al Dhafra after 11 of his players only returned from international duty on Thursday.

The league and President’s Cup winners welcome Al Dhrafa to the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Saturday with The Boss aiming to make it two wins out of two in the AGL.

But Mamic says he is not happy to have been given little time to work with his full squad for an “important” fixture.

“I am not happy to be preparing for a match the day after tomorrow where some of the international players only featured for 10 minutes and none some at all during the friendly games,” bemoaned the Croatian.

“I have not met all the players who went away on international duty but my job is to make them ready for our next game.”

Meanwhile, Al Jazira head coach Marcel Keizer has demanded an improvement from his players when they host Fujairah.

The Pride of Abu Dhabi were held to a 1-1 draw by Emirates Club in the Arabian Gulf Cup on Monday but Keizer wants a much better performance if they want to maintain their perfect start to the league.

“I am not satisfied about our performance in the last match against Emirates in the Arabian Gulf Cup, and I was disappointed because I believed we could win that game,” said the former Ajax head coach.

“We prepared very well and we started the game with our best 11, but things didn’t go well and we ended up with one point only. Now we demand from ourselves a better performance in the next match against Fujairah, and the three points from this match, because we want to get back on the right track as soon as we can.”

In the other game of the day, Shabab Al Ahli travel to Ajman with the visitors aiming to secure their first league win of the season after they were beaten 5-4 by Jazira in the opening round.

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Al Nasr coach Ivan Jovanovic says it's too early to judge his team ahead of Al Ain clash

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Yohan Cabaye (left) arrived at Al Nasr in the summer

Al Nasr coach Ivan Jovanovic has urged the club’s supporters to be patient if they want to watch attractive football ahead of their Arabian Gulf Cup clash with Al Ain on Monday.

The Blue Wave were highly productive during the summer transfer window, bringing in seven players including former Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle United star Yohan Cabaye on a free transfer from Premier League side Crystal Palace. Despite the new faces, Al Nasr got their Arabian Gulf League campaign off to a losing start when they suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat to Ajman.

Jovanovic’s charges bounced back in the AG Cup though with a 1-0 win over Emirates Club last week. But ahead of a visit to the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, where they take on last season’s domestic league and cup winners Al Ain, the Serb stressed it will take time for his new arrivals to blend as a team.

“Our focus now is entirely on bringing the new players together and seeking to provide enjoyable football that will delight the fans,” said the 56-year-old.

“The first matches of the tournament there are many factors that affect their harmony and the most important is the high temperatures that they are playing in.”

Jovanovic is wary of the threat posed by the Boss and knows his players cannot afford to make the same mistakes they did when they played Ajman two weeks ago.

“We have to be physically good in order to win the game. We have to focus intensively for the full 90 minutes and try and create many goal scoring opportunities. That was something we suffered when we played Ajman,” he added.

“I trust my players and am confident they will give their best.”

For Al Ain, they thrashed Sharjah 4-1 in the first round and while head coach Zoran Mamic admits Nasr will pose a strong challenge, he hopes there is strong support to rally them home.

“Al Ain will enter an important challenge on its first appearance at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium this season and I hope there will be a massive crowd to enhance the ambitions of the players,” said the Croatian, who distanced himself from the UAE national team job on Saturday.

“Last season we achieved a historic double and we deserve strong support because the fans are the most important factor.”

In other games on Monday, Al Jazira visit Emirates with the Pride of Abu Dhabi looking to build on their big 5-2 victory over Fujairah in the opening round. The Wolves, who won promotion last season, welcome Al Dhafra, who will be making their first appearance in the competition this term.

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