Jorge Fossati still awaits his first victory in charge of Al Ahli Jeddah after their second-half bombardment of Al Fateh could not avoid a 2-1 Saudi Professional League loss.
The Jeddah giants were rocked in the seventh minute at Prince Abdullah bin Jalawi Sports City Stadium on Wednesday when midfielder Mohammed Al Majhad’s cross/shot took a vicious deflection off right-back Abdullah Tarmin.
Ahli – in the absence from the XI of rested Cape Verde striker Djaniny – struggled to get going until after the interval. Syria hot shot Omar Al Somah spurned a trio of exceptional chances, before Saudi forward Muhannad Assiri produced an exceptional leap to nod in a 73rd-minute leveller from a corner.
Pathetic defending in the 89th minute then granted Al Majhad space to race through and slot in his second.
FOSSATI IS YET TO FIRE
If Fossati was brought in this month to provide AFC Champions League know-how, then the 2011 winner cannot yet be fully judged.
The initial signs, however, are worrisome. Could he be on for a repeat of 2013’s seven-week stint at Al Ain?
Ahli won five of their last six fixtures under the dismissed Pablo Guede. Under the new man, defects at both ends have made it two SPL losses and one Zayed Champions Cup draw.
Saudi Arabia defender Mohammed Al Fatil’s choice to dribble out of the five-man defence was flabbergasting for the fortunate Fateh opener. The same man and ex-Valencia centre-back Aderlan Santos’ unforgivable backtracking then allowed the late clincher.
Hopes of success in the SPL are long gone. Fossati cannot afford to see Ahli’s continental aspirations go the same way, beginning with March 5’s reunion with Al Sadd.
BRING JURADO BACK
Fossati looked towards a forgotten man to save him in Al Hasa – and the trick almost came off.
Ex-Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Watford playmaker Jose Manuel Jurado had last played for Ahli on January 20. He was granted the entire second half on Wednesday, with an improvement in attacking play visible.
Jurado’s two key passes was more than midfield starters Abdulrahman Ghareeb and Claudio Baeza, plus the same as €10 million Romania winger Nicolae Stanciu produced in 90 minutes.
Fossati could do worse than start him in Monday’s ZSC quarter-final decider with Al Wasl.
There were heroes all over the park for Fateh.
Ukraine goalkeeper Maksym Koval pulled off an exceptional six saves, Al Majhad doubled up and Portuguese striker Joao Pedro ran himself into the ground.
This memorable win against Ahli ensured that from clashes with the SPL’s ‘Big Four’ this term, only champions Hilal emerged victorious. Ahli joined Al Shabab Riyadh as a famous scalp, while big-spending Al Nassr could only draw 0-0.
They are now only six points behind third-placed Shabab, albeit after playing a game extra. Slim dreams of securing a third-ever ACL campaign should be held onto.
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