Asian League Champions Qualifier Matches: Yemeni “Eagles” 2, “Asian Giants” 2 [Archives:1998/41/Sports]

October 12 1998

Despite its reputation in Asian football and its long experience in international arenas, the Saudi Hilal club could not beat Yemen’s eagles – the Wahda of Sanaa.
In spite of the great disparity between the modest potentials of the Yemeni team and those of the Saudi team, called the leader of Asian clubs, the latter failed to overcome the Yemeni champion’s determination to achieve a good result.
The match, played at the Thawra stadium in Sanaa last Thursday, ended 2-2. A draw by traditional standards, but for the Wahda of Sanaa it was more like a glaring victory.
The Yemeni club has thus added a new accomplishment to the Yemeni football record in a bid to rid itself from persistent losses. It is now targeting victory as the main goal.
Yemeni fans, who came from various areas, portrayed a great love for their country. They kept on chanting and cheering, urging their country’s team to keep on the good performance.
The match:
The Saudi team took it seriously from the start. It went on the offensive and gained a corner kick, which was not fruitfully exploited. Following attacks and counter-attacks, Yemeni striker Ankad netted the first goal on the 12th minute of the first half.
The Saudi players, feeling the danger, started to pick up momentum near the end of the first half and their renowned winger Thunayan struck a goal by the 43rd minute ending the first half 1-1.
The Saudis, gaining confidence after their draw, started the second half with intensive attacks that resulted in their second goal in the 8th minute. The Yemeni team, fueled by the roaring crowds, launched several attacking waves that gained them their long-awaited draw on the 43rd minute despite the strong defense of the Saudis.
Hilal, which won the Asian league Cup Winners Cup several times, enjoys a rightly earned reputation that made even Yemeni fans predict a heavy loss for their team.
Yet that modest team was able to embarrass the guests in the first leg of their qualifying matches and present a level not expected by many of their admirers.
It appears that the new club Chairman Noman Duwaid’s constant support and concern has mad a positive impact on the team. The chairman paid the cost of the team’s food and accommodation at Sam City Hotel during their preparation for the match, instead of the youth hostel which is not fit for accommodating the players. That concern coupled with modest training brought a terrific result.
In a press conference, Hilal’s German coach, Holmann, expressed his admiration for the Wahda’s enthusiastic performance. He said that if his team had played with that same zeal, they would have won.
However, he said that the Wahda of Sanaa will face a difficult mission in the second match against Hilal in Riyadh on October 23 and that the draw did not favor Wahda.
Cash prizes were distributed at the end of the match with Yemeni striker Said Al-Humaikani winning US $1,000 as best player, Fouad Ankad $1,500 for scoring the first goal and each of Anwar Al-Serouri and Khalid Al-Timawi (Hilal) $500 for fair play.
The international referees from Bahrain, Ali Al-Suraihi, Yousef Al-Qattan, Hamid Al-Nujaim and Hamza Merza led the match safely to its conclusion.
The match was attended by Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr. Abdulwahab Raweh; Minister of Agriculture, Ahmad Al-Jibly; Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Hamoud Obad and a number of sports officials.
The Saudi Embassy in Sanaa hosted a dinner banquet last Wednesday in honor of Mr. Faisal Mohammed Al-Shoheil, Deputy Chairman of the Saudi club, and the team members. The reception was attended by Chairman of the Yemeni Football Association, Mr. Ali Al-Ashwal, Deputy Minister Obad, Wahda Chief Duwaid and Chairman of Al-Ahli club Mohammed Abdulilah Al-Qadhi in addition to a number of journalists.
‘Yemen Times’ was there and asked a number of the guests their impressions of the match.
Faisal Al-Shoheil, Hilal’s Deputy Chairman, said it was their first visit to Yemen and expressed pleasure at meeting youths of a neighboring country that shares common factors with his country, namely those of religion, language and origin.
He hoped that such visits would continue in the future in various cultural and sports fields and thanked the Yemeni Football Association and Wahda of Sanaa for their warm reception and generous hospitality.
Sulaiman Al-Marhoumi, the Saudi Charge d’Affaires, described his country’s team visit here as fraternal and aimed at strengthening relations between Yemeni and Saudi youths. “We hope for a fair competition that would give further evidence on the development of relations between the two brotherly countries,” he said.
Al-Marhoumi affirmed that there will be further exchange of visits between Saudi and Yemeni clubs.
Chairman of the Wahda of Sanaa, Noman Duweid, described the Saudi Hilal team as a school in itself for football and said that it enjoys a reputation and long experience in this sphere. “We hope to benefit from that team’s expertise,” he concluded.