Muscat, Dec 15 – Seeb and Ahli Sidab registered convincing second leg victories to set up a cracking His Majesty’s Cup Hockey Championship final on Monday. In Friday’s second leg semifinal clashes, defending champions Al Nasr were outshone 4-0 by a rampant Ahli Sidab at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Friday night. Eleven-time champions Seeb, who nonetheless had an 8-1 advantage against Muscat after the first-leg semifinal, completed the formalities by winning the second leg 3-1 at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
Ten-time champion Ahli Sidab, who fought back to a 2-2 draw in the first leg, were in top form against the Salalah team on Friday.
After an even first quarter, Ahli Sidab were at their prime in the second quarter — pumping in three goals that sealed the fate of the match.
Omani player Ashraf Talib netted the first with a nice field goal in the 19th minute. After two minutes, Indian international Rupinder Pal Singh hit the target from a penalty corner to make it 2-0 for Ahli Sidab.
Omani player Asad al Qasmi put them in command with another field goal in the 22nd minute.
Then on, Al Nasr — who were hit by some injuries — tried to reduce the deficit in the second half but lacked the ability to finish. In the third and fourth quarters, Oman international goalkeeper Amjad Ali was the stumbling block between Al Nasr and a goal.
The agile goalkeeper saved many strong shots and thwarted some penalty corner attempts also from the desperate Al Nasr players. Indian recruit Shivdeep Shankar sealed the 4-0 victory for Ahli Sidab through a brilliant strike in the 56th minute.
Coach KK Poonacha was all praise for the goalkeeper.
“Amjad had an outstanding game,” Poonacha told Oman Observer.
The Indian coach said his team was determined to win this game.
“The players’ attitude for this crucial match was really positive. We were aggressive from the start and want to restart from where we stopped at the first leg. The team’s tactics really worked for us,” the former coach of Oman national team said.
Poonacha said the boys are in great shape for the final against Seeb on Monday. The final will begin at 6 pm at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
Ahli Sidab’s Rupinder Pal said his team deserved to win the match against Al Nasr.
“We were clearly the better team in this match. Our players had come back really well after conceding two goals against Al Nasr in the first leg.”
“We are in top form at the moment and there is no reason not to win the final also,” the India international said. Ahli Sidab board member Yasser al Shalwani was elated with his team’s performance.
“I am thrilled to watch the great show by our players against the defending champions. We hope to win the title on Monday,” he said.
A disappointed Al Nasr coach Mohammed al Batrani rued injuries for top four players.
“We had injuries to several players and four of them could not play today. So our attacks were lacking the sharpness,” Al Batrani said.
SEEB WRAP UP WIN
Coming after a huge win of 8-1 in the first leg, Seeb took the match in their stride with a comfortable 3-1 win over much-improved Muscat team. Pakistan international Mohammed Dilber opened the account for Seeb with a strong strike in the 31st minute. Omani player Qasim Moosa increased the lead two minutes later with another field goal.
Dilber scored his second goal in the 56th minute as Seeb raced to a 3-0 lead.
Muscat’s relentless efforts to find a goal succeeded in the final minute when Indian recruit Mukul Kataria fired home from a penalty corner.
Seeb’s Egyptian coach Osama Hasnain said his team is ready for the final.
“We are all prepared for the final and the players are in good shape,” he said.