Arabian Gulf League: Painful return for champions Sharjah, lowly Al Dhafra and Ittihad Kalba win

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Shahin Abdulrahman (UAE Pro League).

Unbeaten champions Sharjah suffered a painful resumption in the Arabian Gulf League with a 0-0 draw versus Bani Yas that included inspirational skipper Shahin Abdulrahman picking up an arm injury and star playmaker Igor Coronado being dismissed.

The UAE’s top flight returned to action on Tuesday after more than a month away, because of World Cup 2022 qualifiers and an unexpected entrance into the 24th Gulf Cup. This midweek round of matches was expected to feature a seventh win from eight run-outs for the King.

But a rocky evening witnessed Spanish striker Pedro Conde rock the woodwork for the visitors to Sharjah Stadium, plus centre-back Abdulrahman trudge off in pain and reigning Foreign Player of the Year Coronado sent off for two yellow cards.

Elsewhere, battles at the bottom dominated as Ittihad Kalba came from behind to thrash Ajman 6-2 and promoted Khor Fakkan were downed 2-0 by Al Dhafra.

At Ittihad Kalba Stadium, Gambia forward Bubacarr Trawally’s – who would also net a later consolation – incisive run gave the Orange Brigade an encouraging fourth-minute lead. This would be as good as it got for the visitors, who would be cut apart by braces from stand-in striker Ahmed Al Naqbi and playmaker Waleed Ambar.

Morocco veteran Issam El Adoua’s glanced header and Ibrahim Saeed’s late nerve-settler saw Dhafra end a six-match losing streak in all competitions.

This result threatens to leave winless Khor five points adrift, by the end of this round.

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