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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Ahli Sidab emerge OHL champions

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MUSCAT : Oman hockey powerhouse Ahli Sidab added another title to their credentials as they beat Seeb 3-1 to emerge champions of the Oman Hockey League 2023-24 in Muscat on Sunday night.


In a keenly-fought final at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, Seeb took lead in the 14th minute through a field goal by Qasim Moosa.


Defending champions Ahli Sidab made good efforts to find the equaliser in the second quarter but could not capitalise on two penalty corners in the 19th and 23rd minutes.


At the half-time, Seeb led 1-0.


Ahli Sidab came strong after the break and made early push into Seeb penalty box. Their reward came soon when Asaad al Qasmi hit the equaliser in the 32nd minute.


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The goal reinvigoured Ahli Sidab ranks and they continued with some dangerous moves across the Seeb goalmouth.


In the 38th minute, Ahli Sidab took the lead when Asaad al Qasmi gave a nice pass to Laith al Wahaibi in front of the Seeb goalpost. Laith’s quick response gave no chance to Seeb goalkeeper Saeed al Hasani as Ahli Sidab went 2-1 up.


Seeb recovered and organised quick attacks to Ahli Sidab penalty area but could not break the tight defence.


In the 51st minute, Seeb earned a penalty corner but could not capitalise on it as Ahli Sidab goalkeeper Ibrahim al Noufali stood firm.


Even when Seeb pushed hard for an equaliser during the remaining minutes, Ahli Sidab also threatened with some quick counter-attacks.


During such a move, Asaad al Qasmi struck his second goal to put Ahli Sidab in pole position for the title with only three minutes to go.


Ahli Sidab controlled the remaining minutes of the game as they strolled to the title with a 3-1 score.


Earlier, in the third-place play-off, Sohar edged Al Nasr 2-1 to finish third in the OHL.


Al Nasr took an early lead through Basim Khater in the second minute and led 1-1 at the half-time break.


Sohar found the equaliser in the 33rd minute through Al Qader al Noufali and his brother Elyas al Noufali struck the winner in the 46th minute.


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During the concluding ceremony, chief guest Mohammed bin Saeed al Balushi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Information, gave away the trophies and medals in presence of Basil bin Ahmed al Rawas, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth for Sports and Youth, and Dr Marwan bin Juma al Juma, Chairman of Oman Hockey Association.


Among the individual awards, Seeb’s Fahad al Lawati was adjudged the best player of the tournament, Seeb’s Ahmed bin Khamis al Balushi was the top-scorer, Sohar’s Fahd bin Khamis al Noufali got the best goalkeeper award of the league and Ahli Sidab’s Laith al Wahaibi became the most promising player of the league.


BEST GAME


Ahli Sidab’s star player Asaad al Qasmi said he was happy to put in a top performance in the final.


“We conceded a goal in the first quarter. But we always believed that we can come back strongly. Our team did the same in the next quarters,” Al Qasmi told Oman Daily Observer.


“It was a perfect day for me. I could score the first and third goals for our team and could give the pass for Laith to net our second goal as well,” he said.


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Ahli Sidab head coach Ayman al Khatiri said he was relieved after retaining the title.


“It was a brilliant effort from the boys. We kept our cool after conceding a goal. Overall, we played to our strengths and kept the opponents away from the crucial moments,” Al Khatri said.


Seeb’s player of the tournament Fahd al Lawati thanked his teammates for the brilliant support.


“I played an all-round game and we tried hard but missed out of the honours in the final. I would recall the match against Salalah in the last round as my best game,” he said.


Seeb head coach Ahmed al Raisi said his team could not retain the initial tempo throughout the final.


“We started strongly but it was difficult to continue such control against strong opponents like Ahli Sidab. It was a decent effort but could not go through until the end,” Al Raisi said.


“We will come back strong in the His Majesty’s Cup,” the Seeb coach added.


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