Asian Clubs Qualifiers: Hilal 4, Wahda 0 [Archives:1998/43/Sports]

October 26 1998

Despite the Hilal football team of Saudi Arabia defeating the Wahda of Sanaa 4-nil, taking into account the former’s experience and capabilities, Wahda played very well indeed. Hilal, with its huge resources has been able to win several Arab and Asian tournaments. 
Judging from the way they played, Hilal players were very well prepared for the match. The Saudi coach, Al-Zayyat, considered Wahda as a strong opponent. This is especially so after the media attack on the Saudi team’s former German coach, Hollmann, following the 2-score draw with Wahda in the Sanaa match. 
First Half 
This part of the match featured intensive strikes by Hilal players on the Wahda goal zone. It was countered by solid defense and short counter-strikes. This situation continued up to the 25th minute of the first half, when the Wahda defender, Ibrahim Awadh, made a serious error. 
In an attempt to kick the ball away from the Yemeni goal, Awadh gave it easily to the Saudi striker Ziyad. The first goal was scored. The Saudi strikes continued unabated, forcing Wahda players to take defensive positions. 
Hilal’s Khalid Al-Timawi and Abdullah Jumaan were able, more than once, to infiltrate Yemeni defenses constituting real danger. In such instances, the exceptional ability of Wahda’s goalie, Fadhl Al-Matar, was quite remarkable. He was able to foil many serious Saudi attempts. Al-Matar was really the star of the game. 
The first half ended with Hilal leading 1-nil. 
Second Half 
The second 45 minutes continued like the first, more or less. Wahda players ferociously defended the Yemeni goal, while Hilal aggressively struck. Yemeni strikes were few and far between.
Wahda striker Mithaq Al-Asbahi was able to control the ball and pass it to Anqad, who infiltrated Saudi defenses getting near to the Saudi goal. However, he lost the ball which went out resulting in a “goal kick.” 
Wahda’s spirited attempts almost resulted in a goal. During the 7th minute of the second half, the Yemeni striker Mithaq Al-Asbahi shot the ball strongly towards the Saudi goal. It was diverted by the goalie, turning into a goal kick. 
In the 15th minute, Hilal striker Abdullah Jumaan, exploiting a corner kick by Mohammed Lutf, shot the ball with his head into the right corner of the Yemeni goal. With a 2-0 score to Saudi’s advantage, Hilal players became almost unstoppable. The second goal, on the other hand, dampened the spirits of the Wahda players who lack the Saudi players’ long experience. They lost the concentration and hence their control of the field. Hilal players were almost in full control of the mid-field. 
During the 23rd minute of the second half, Wahda striker Anwar Al-Surori infiltrated Saudi defenses reaching their goal. His delay in shooting the ball gave the Saudi defenders ample chance to kick the ball out of the filed, resulting in a goal kick. 
In a Saudi counter-attack during the 27th minute, Abdullah Jumaan overtook Wahda defenders, shooting the ball comfortably into the left corner of the Yemeni goal – 3-nil. 
Wahda players were in a state of disarray during the last few minutes of the match. It became quite easy for Saudi strikers to go through several gaps in the Yemeni defenses. Sami Al-Jabari, Hilal striker, scored the 4th goal of the match. 
After that the Wahda players’ main concern became how to prevent the Saudis from scoring more goals by grouping near the goal zone. This situation persisted until the referee whistled signaling the end of the match. 
Wahda players made a truly remarkable performance. They definitely need more training facilities and more resources, the lack of which was somewhat compensated with enthusiasm.