AFC Cup: Oman’s Al Arouba holds Neftchi
By staff - Wed Apr 11, 10:08 am
Seeb: Uzbekistan’s Neftchi narrowly held onto their unbeaten AFC Cup record as Oman’s Al Arouba were forced to settle for a point despite dominating the Group D contest at Al Seeb Sports Stadium on Tuesday.
Abdullah Saleh, Habiballah Dahmani, Danilo Teixeira and Eid Al Farsi all came close for the home side, but Neftchi survived as Al Arouba failed to gain revenge for last week’s 3-1 defeat in Uzbekistan.
With Jordan’s Al Wehdat beating India’s Salgaocar 3-1 to move a point clear of Neftchi at the top of the table, third-placed Al Arouba sit four points adrift of second place with two games remaining.
“The result is not good for us although we put on a good show and we had a lot of chances to score. But the lack of experience affected us and we could have had a big result had we used those chances,” said Al Orouba’s Egyptian coach Mukhtar Mukhtar.
“In the second half we didn’t take advantage of the defensive display of Neftchi as our strikers failed to beat the goalkeeper while our opponents managed to get out with their desired result.”
Al Arouba made a bright start to the contest and created the first chance midway through the first half as Saleh headed wide from Mohamed Hamed’s inviting left wing cross.
The home side continued to pose a threat and again came close to a breakthrough 12 minutes before half-time as Moroccan midfielder Dahmani found space for a shot from outside the area but failed to find the target.
The home side picked up where they left off at the start of the second half as Brazilian striker Danilo Teixeira, who scored Al Arouba’s stoppage-time consolation last week, sent a free-kick just wide of the upright just a minute after coming on as a 52st minute substitute.
Despite Al Arouba’s dominance, Neftchi goalkeeper Eldor Isabayev was only called into action for the first time four minutes after the hour mark to deny defender Eid Al Farsi.
The chances dried up for the home side in the closing stages before Neftchi substitute Sherzod Hakimov was sent-off after picking up a second yellow card in stoppage time.
“We managed to get one point and this is what we were looking for. We were hoping to get at least a draw and the most important thing now is that we achieved our target,” said Neftchi coach Yuriy Sarkisyan.
“We had a lot of injuries in the second half and that’s why our players were down most of the time.
“We are getting closer to qualifying to the next stage and this will be decided in the next two matches.”