Group B: Al Dhafra FC 1-1 Nafit Al Wasat
Yogyakarta: United Arab Emirates’ Al Dhafra and Nafit Al Wasat of Iraq played to a 1-1 draw in Group B of the AFC Futsal Club Championship Indonesia 2018 on Wednesday.
In the all West Asian affair, both sides applied pressure from the start and were equally matched in possession and attempts on shot.
Nafit’s Farhad Tavakoli came close in the opening minutes but his left-footed shot struck the crossbar.
Thirteen minutes in, Nafit reacted with a counter-attack that saw Tavakoli and Ghodrat Bahadori unmarked in opposition territory, but Bahadori failed to connect a crucial pass in the box.
By the half-time whistle, it was clear that the man of the match for both teams were their goalkeepers, Al Dhafra’s Hassan Ali Al Hantoobi and Yahya Abdulnoor Raheem of Nafit, who were outstanding in safeguarding their goal.
The high-tempo game continued with man-on-man marking keeping both sides on their feet, but in the 24th minute Mohamed Abdulla Fadaaq outmuscled Nafit’s Mustafa Bachay Hamzah in front of the box and hit home to break the deadlock.
Al Dhafra pushed to further their advantage, knowing an opening day win would lay the foundations of reaching the quarter-finals, and a minute after the half-hour mark, Mohammad Obaid let loose a left footed volley but was denied by ‘keeper Abdulnoor Raheem.
Nafit, the 2016 runners-up, kept prodding with attempt after another and their efforts finally paid off in the 34th minute when Hasan Ali Jabbar headed the ball in from close range, courtesy of Bachay Hamzah’s pass into the box to level the scores.
The scoreline was not reflective of the action-packed game at the Gor Amongrogo, and in the final minute, Nafit committed their fifth foul but Al Dhafra failed to take advantage of it, as both sides shared the spoils.
Next up, Al Dhafra will take on Korea Republic’s Jeonju MAG FC, while Nafit face Thai Son Nam FC of Vietnam on Friday.
Nafit Al Wasat Head Coach Haitham Abbas Bawei
"We are sad cause it ended 1-1. It was a difficult match but we must be thinking of the next match and we must be the winner. It will be difficult going up against the team from Vietnam (Thai Son Nam). We are in a difficult position. I will push my team because we need to win the next game."
Al Dhafra Head Coach Luis Cilleros
"Today our team had good concentration in defence and counter-attack. We had a lot of chances and our team had really good fitness, but I am extremely happy because all the players gave me more than a 100 percent today. The next game is another problem, but it's still important to win the second game. If we win, we will have a good chance to finish group winner or runners-up."