Players of Al Jazira and Ittihad Kalba in action during their Arabian League Cup match at the Ittihad Kalba Club Stadium on Thursday. Courtesy: Twitter
It turned out to be a sour Arabian Gulf Cup opener for coach Marcel Keizer’s Al Jazira, whose team were given a jolt by hosts Ittihad Kalba in the 2020-21 season’s opening match played at the Ittihad Kalba Club Stadium on Thursday. Jorge Da Silva’s Hatta prevailed 2-1 to kick off their campaign on a winning note.
In the other match starting at the same time at the Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in Hatta as the Kalba-Al Jazira tie, Hatta, who hosted Bani Yas were outplayed by the visitors 2-0.
Earlier in the Kalba-Al Jazira match, Kalba opened the scoring in the 23rd minute of the first half through Togolese forward Peniel Kokou Mlapa after receiving a pass from UAE midfielder Majid Rashid. The score remained 1-0 in favour of the hosts at half-time.
Sixteen minutes after resumption, Al Jazira’s Serbian defender Milos Kosanovic scored the equaliser for the men from Abu Dhabi.
However, in the very last minute of regulation time, it was Mlapa who scored his second goal of the match and giving Kalba a well-deserved win.
Earlier, in the Hatta-Bani Yas match, hosts Hatta were 0-2 down at half time after a 4th minute goal by Bani Yas’s Brazilian striker Joao Pedro followed by another from their Emirati forward Mohamed Al Hammadi in the 39th minute of the half. The two teams went into the lemon break with the hosts trailing 0-2. Visitors Bani Yas went on to win the match as the second half finished goalless.
UAE PRO LEAGUE CIRCULAR: Meanwhile, the UAE Pro League issued a circular based on the approved protocol for the 2020-2021 sports season, which included a clarification stating that the COVID-19 pandemic will not be considered a force majeure event as long as there is no reason to prevent the matches from being held during the pandemic, except in the event that the competition is suspended or canceled by the relevant authorities, which results in the impossibility of holding the matches. In the light of this, the Pro League decided the following:
1) Match squad: Having positive Covid-19 cases in the team will not be considered a reason for match postponement.
2) If a team has 20 players, including the goalkeeper, eligible to play after negative Covid-19 test results, the club becomes eligible to play the scheduled match. In all cases, 20 players are not required to be registered in the match squad, and the match will be held according to the numbers stipulated in the competition rules and the laws of the game.
3) The deadline for submitting test results on the UAE FA website is 12 noon on matchday. In case a club fails to deliver the test results before the above-specified deadline and until an hour and a half before match kick-off, the match will be held and the club which violates the rules will face disciplinary action.
4) As an exception to what is stated in (3), the club has the right to amend the list of the players’ test results and add to it in case positive cases were detected until an hour and a half before the start of the match, in which case, that team will not face disciplinary action.
5) In case a club fails to provide 20 players, including a goalkeeper with negative COVID-19 test results before the above-specified deadline (less than an hour and a half from kick-off), the team will be handed a 3-0 loss.
As for canceling or not completing the competitions, the following has been decided:
1) The decision to cancel or not complete the season for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic will be made based on a decision by authorities in the country.
2) In case such decision was before the end of the first half of the season, a decision shall be made to cancel the season completely without declaring a champion or relegating any team to the first-tier, and the teams’ standings will not be calculated for any reason.
3) In case such decision is taken after the end of the first half of the season, the final standings will be calculated according to the last rankings before the competition stoppage, provided that all teams played the same number of matches. In case the number of games played by all teams is not equal, the final standings will be calculated according to the last matchweek in which all the teams were equal in the number of matches played, and a champion will be declared, relegation to first-tier and AFC Champions League qualification spots will be retained as well as all other consequences, whether financial, administrative or otherwise. And in all cases, to avoid any doubt, points from any matchweek that has not been completed will not be calculated or included in the teams’ final standings.