Hatta boy: Makhete Diop netted twice as life for Shabab Al Ahli Dubai got off to a perfect start. A brave new world
Merged Shabab Al Ahli Dubai begin AGL life with thumping Hatta win
Makhete Diop was the hero for the new Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club last night, his brace for the merged outfit helping earn a winning start in the Arabian Gulf League.
A new reality was at play on the fields of Rashid Stadium, the impact of May’s shock merger between Al Shabab, perennial challengers Al Ahli and promoted Dubai CSC made real as the top flight got under way. This side patched together by ex-Red Knights supremo Cosmin Olaroiu – coveted by the UAE for their vacant coaching post – from seven Ahli and four Shabab starters had its composite parts to thank for a victory made more trying by Hatta’s early penalty, won and converted by Brazilian forward Samuel Rosa.
Yet in Senegal target man Diop they possess a marksman of rare quality – he now boasts 11 goals in 14 AGL games since December’s profitable switch from Al Dhafra.
The former Ahli man’s strikes were reinforced by UAE centreback Mohammed Marzooq’s bundled effort straight after the break which put the hosts in front for the first time. His ex-Shabab team-mate Tomas De Vincenti volleyed in a fine fourth at the death.
For Hatta, the disparity between them was not accurately reflected by the score line. A promoted side who went on to make last term’s President’s Cup semi-finals and were never at risk of relegation appear capable of gatecrashing mid-table this time.
A stale opening came to life when Shabab Al Ahli centreback Salmeen Khamis was adjudged to have handled Rosa’s low cross. The Brazilian himself stepped up to get off the mark this term.
The newly combined outfit dominated possession without truly threatening. This was until right-back Abdulaziz Haikal’s chip forward was chested down and halfvolleyed home by Diop.
The deadlock at the break was broken in comical style. De Vincenti’s free-kick was fumbled by goalkeeper Obaid Thani into Marzooq’s path, for a rare goal.
Diop stroked the ball into the bottom corner after fine wing play by Moldova forward Henrique Luvannor. De Vincenti then provided an eye-catching final flourish from the edge of the area.