MUSCAT, SEPT 19
Oman's Al Nahda lost to Lebanon's Al Ahed 2-1 in the first round of the first group of the AFC Cup group stage match at the Al Seeb Sports
Stadium on Monday.
The game began cautiously, with both teams showing initial restraint. The play remained balanced until the 10th minute when Al Nahda nearly secured their first goal through a beautiful maneuver by Ahmed al Kaabi. However, the first half concluded without any significant attacking opportunities for either teams.
As the second half commenced, Al Nahda pressed forward in an attempt to find the first goal and take the lead. Their advantage was evident in reaching Al Ahed Club's defensive areas. In the 54th minute, Bilal bin Saha capitalised on a loose ball in the penalty area, scoring Al Nahda's first goal. However, just four minutes later, Al Ahed equalised with a goal by Lee Irwin, exploiting a defensive error.
Al Ahed was active after adjusting the score and obtained a number of balls in the back areas of Al Nahda, taking advantage of the confusion in Al Nahda’s defences. However, Al Nahda almost scored the second goal but striker Essam al Subhi delayed in making the shot, failing to confront the Lebanese goalkeeper in the 66th minute. After that, Al Nahda had several opportunities that were not exploited in the desired way.
The 83rd minute witnessed the most dangerous attacking balls by Al Nahda Club, with Essam al Subhi missing another goal. Al Ahed Club then returned to score the lead goal through Karim Darwish in the 86th minute, taking advantage of a defensive error in positioning. The match
ended with the victory of the Lebanese Al Ahed Club on that score of 2-1.
In the press conference after the end of the match, Al Nahda club coach Hamad al Azani confirmed that the defensive errors cost the team its first loss in the Asian club tournament campaign.
"In addition to the circumstances accompanying the match, some of our top players were also missing in action due to injuries," he said.
"We realise the importance of the beginning with a win in the Asian competition, but the team is capable of a comeback. We have many matches ahead of us and we must prepare well for that," Al Azani added.
Al Azani explained that there were individual mistakes that were present in the match and may have been the cause of the loss.
Al Azani said: "I previously talked about these mistakes with the players and we tried to address and reduce them. However, the factor of stress and fatigue made the players lose some of their concentration, and the absences affected us, especially Ahmed al Matroushi in the back line, but in the end, these are individual mistakes that we can address."