At the End of the 9th Week of Football Excellent League Tournament Despite Its Draw with Taliya, Al-Ahli of Sanaa Still in the Lead! [Archives:1999/08/Sports]

February 22 1999

Al-Ahli Still Leads, In Spite of Its Draw with Taliya
The 9th week of the Football Excellent League Tournament witnessed a major decline in the performance of all the top-ranking teams. As a matter of fact, this decline is the worst since the beginning of the tournament, with all three top teams unable to win. In a very disappointing match, the tournament leader, Al-Ahli, played one of its worst games this season. Al-Ahli fans had every right to be disappointed, particularly as the match was between their top-ranked team and the second to last team in the tournament, Taliya of Taiz. However, anyone who watched the last game between Taliya and Shaab of Ibb would have known that Al-Ahli’s game would be tough. Taliya proved again on Friday that it can live up to a challenge, especially when playing against tough opponents. So far it has been the biggest surprise of the tournament.
The match began with the expectation that Al-Ahli would easily defeat its weak opponent. However, surrounded by its fans and on its home field, Taliya proved to be tough to beat. During the first half of the match, Taliya displayed better tactics and faster play. It almost scored several times, while Al-Ahli was struggling on its attack. Al-Ahli didn’t even come close to scoring throughout the entire first half. The Taliya defense was simply too strong.
However, the second half included many more Al-Ahli attacks on Taliya. Al-Ahli attackers had many excellent opportunities to score that could have saved them from total humiliation, but they wasted them all. There were times when Al-Ahli attackers managed to bypass the first line of defense, but the goalkeeper was to strong to get through. Without a doubt, the hero of the second half was the Taliya goalkeeper, Walid Rajih, who frustrated Al-Ahli attackers throughout the half. The cheers reached their loudest every time the goalkeeper brilliantly prevented what looked to be an unstoppable goal. The incredible play of the goalkeeper made the fans go wild with cheers that could be heard from outside of the stadium.
In the end, Al-Ahli could only manage to pull a scoreless draw out of the game. Besides being Ahli’s first draw of the tournament, Al-Ahli lost a good chance for an easy win against a weak team. Al-Ahli was expected to have an easy win that would have widened its lead in the standings.
Having the advantage of the ground and spectators, Taliya seemed to be highly motivated towards proving it is not a team to be taken lightly by any one, even the tournament leader. And it proved its point. With this draw, Al-Ahli of Sanaa maintains its lead with 22 points, ahead of Al-Shaab of Ibb and Al-Wahda of Sanaa.
A Furious Fight between Two Rivals from Ibb
Another major match was between two rival teams from the city of Ibb: Al-Shaab in second place with 19 points, and Al-Ittihad in the fifth place with 14 points. Both were looking for a victory to improve their standards in the tournament rankings. Everyone realized that the match would be a very strong and tense one. Many feared that tensions in the field would cause tensions among spectators, especially after a number of violent incidents that took place two weeks ago. But thankfully, no serious accidents occurred this time.
The match started with a lot of action from both sides. The superiority of Al-Ittihad was clearly evident throughout the entire match. Al-Ittihad showed a great amount of organization, flexibility, speed, and quality attacks. However, in spite of the many attacks of Al-Ittihad players, none of them was capable of scoring a goal. The selfishness of some of the players in trying to score goals alone did not help matters, and gave Al-Shaab the chance to try and score a goal of their own. But Al-Shaab was not on its top performance, and all their attacks failed to score.
The second half showed a more determined attack by Al-Ittihad in hopes of scoring their golden goal. A confirmation of this determination was Al-Ittihad’s coach’s decision in replacing Khalid Al-Arumi with the Ittihad’s star Qassim Al-Usta. Later on this decision paid off, and paid off well. As expected, Qassim Al-Usta inspired the entire team, leading the way to some of the best attacks of the match. In one of those attacks, Qassim passes the ball to Ahmed Alawi, who in turn passes it to Al-Ittihad’s best player Ahmed Al-Bidayr, but before it reaches him, it gets touched by a defender from Al-Shaab, causing the referee to signal a penalty kick. Al-Bidayr then takes the penalty kick smoothly to score one of Al-Ittihad’s most important goals of the tournament in the 24th minute of the second half of the match.
This goal devastated Al-Shaab and seriously depressed its players. Noticing the state of Al-Shaab players, Al-Ittihad tried to take advantage and launch another furious attack on Al-Shaab in order to score once again. Although Al-Ittihad was close to scoring a second goal, it couldn’t, and the match ended with Al-Ittihad defeating its local rival Al-Shaab 1/nil. This score boosted Al-Ittihad’s points to 17, while it left Al-Shaab with 19 points.
Second Loss for Last Year’s Cup Winner
It was a total shock for last year’s cup winner Al-Wahda of Sanaa to get defeated in its own field and in front its own spectators by Shaab of Al-Mukalla. In spite of this loss, Al-Wahda is still third in the tournament rankings following Al-Shaab of Ibb. The astonishing defeat by Shaab was a major set back for a team that could have taken over the second spot with a win. Previously sixth in the tournament rankings, Shaab gained a significant win, tying it for fourth place with 2 other strong teams, making it another candidate for a top spot at the end of the league.
Shaab caused one of the biggest surprises of the tournament with its dominance throughout the game with Al-Wahada and crushed it with a totally unexpected win.
Both halves of the match were almost completely controlled by Shaab. Both teams were very cautious and played a defensive game. However, the defensive line of Al-Wahda was too weak to stand withstand the pressure of Shaab’s attacks. In the 45th minute of the first half, Shaab’s players took advantage of a gap in Al-Wahda’s defense leading the way to the goal of the match. Al-Wahda struggled to bring its players back together and try to organize some attacks, but their vain attempts to equalize the score were fruitless, and they lost the game. It was a major disappointment for Al-Wahda, especially as it had promised its fans to do its best to win games in its home field.
Hassan’s Climb to the Top Continues
Having won its match with Al-Tilal, Hassan from Abyan is holding tightly to its 4th position. Although the match was almost entirely controlled by Al-Tilal, Hassan managed to take advantage of two counter attacks and won by a score of two to one. Another factor in this win was Al-Tilal’s waste of a penalty kick that could have turned things around. The general excitement level was low, with few god attacks from either teams. But eventually, Al-Tilal lost and Hassan win gives it an extra boost in its climb to the top.
The 9th week of the Excellent Football Tournament included many surprising results. The teams most disappointed were the second and third which could not take advantage of the leading team’s. Even though the first four spots did not change, the results of the games were absolutely astonishing. From the scores, it seems that what they say of football “the ball is round” is right and one cannot always guarantee any results no matter how strong the team and how weak its opponent. For now, we have to patiently wait for the results 10th Week of the tournament to see how things will change. Who knows? Like the 9th week, it may also be full of surprises!