Er­bil beats Shabab in AFC Cup opener

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By Zakaria M uhammed

The team from the Kur­dish cap­i­tal, Er­bil, played its first match in the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion (AFC) Cup on Fe­bru­ary 26 against Shabab of Jordan in Am­man In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium.

Three sec­ond-half goals saw for­mer fi­nal­ists Er­bil record a 3-1 come­back win in Wed­nes­day’s AFC Cup Group D opener.

Ablaye Papa Diop de­servedly opened the scor­ing for 2007 cham­pi­ons Shabab nine min­utes be­fore half-time, pleas­ing the lo­cal fans.

The hap­pi­ness of the host team did not last long, how­ever, as Luay Salah equal­ized for 2012 run­ners-up Er­bil soon af­ter the break. Er­bil were well-or­ga­nized and co­her­ent in their passes, es­pe­cially in mid­field. An­other two goals from Am­jed Radhi and Borja Ru­bi­ato se­cured vic­tory for the vis­i­tors.

Shabab, who lost in the first round of the AFC Cham­pi­ons League play-offs to Bahrain’s Al Hidd ear­lier this month, dom­i­nated the first half against Er­bil and took the led nine min­utes be­fore half-time as Diop’s loop­ing header from Issa Al Sa­pah’s cor­ner beat goal­keeper Jalal Has­san.

But the lead lasted just nine min­utes into the sec­ond half as Salah headed home Burhan Sahy­ouni’s cross.

Er­bil com­pleted the turn­around just six min­utes later as Am­jed Radhi cap­i­tal­ized on an er­ror from Mo­hammed Shis­hani to beat goal­keeper Tamer Salah.

Er­bil made the points safe with two min­utes re­main­ing as sec­ond-half sub­sti­tute Ru­bi­ato con­verted Radhi’s cross from close range.

While Er­bil coach Ayob Odisho did not at­tend the post-match press con­fer­ence to share his thoughts on the come­back win, Shabab Al Or­don coach Raed As­saf did not feel the de­feat would af­fect his team’s chances of pro­gres­sion be­yond the group stage.

“Er­bil knew how to come back from a goal down to win the match. We strug­gled in the sec­ond half and we failed to hold on to our first-half lead,” he said.

He added “How­ever, the de­feat should not af­fect us as we are de­ter­mined to qual­ify for the knockout stage of the com­pe­ti­tion. We must fix the mis­takes we made and learn lessons from this match.”

This pic­ture shows a view of Er­bil vs Shabab match at the AFC Cup which ran at the Am­man In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium in Jordan last Wed­nes­day.

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