Al Ahli left it late to score a crucial 1-0 victory over Umm Salal in Week 1 of the 2022-2023 season QNB Stars League at the Al Sadd Stadium on Monday.
Yazan Al Naimat scored the all-important goal in the 82nd minute of the match, which saw Umm Salal miss many opportunities, especially in the first half, through Ivorian striker Jonathan Kodjia who joined them from Al Gharafa this season.
Umm Salal had the most of first half and they came closer to goal many times, had it not been for the brilliance of Al Ahli goalkeeper Yazan Naim and their defenders.
Umm Salal’s first chance came in the 16th minute from a cross and Kodjia sent the ball over the crossbar.
In the last minutes, Yazan came up with a couple of consecutive saves to deny Umm Salal’s new recruit Uzbek Sardor Rashidov.
The second half began with a chance for Umm Salal involving another new recruit Joao Teixeira and Abdulrashid Ibrahim, and referee Abdulhadi Al Ruaile awarded a penalty only for VAR to cancel the kick.
Al Ahli finally found success off a counter-attack. Abdulrashid Ibrahim crossed the ball from the right and Al Naimat sent it crashing into the net with an on-the-run shot from close range for the winning goal.
Both Umm Salal and Al Ahli had finished with 25 points each in last season’s QNB Stars League and the former finished in the sixth position on better goal difference and the latter ended up seventh.
While Al Ahli embarked on the new season by keeping their faith in Montenegrin coach Nebojsa Jovovic, the same went with Umm Salal’s Wesam Rizik, a former Qatar international midfielder.