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Match Report: Duhook 0-0 Talaba – Iraqi Premier League

Duhok Take A Point Away At Talaba.

By Hassanin Mubarak

Financially-strapped Duhok demonstrated to one of the top teams in Baghdad at the sparsely populated Al-Sinaa Stadium that money doesn’t always buy you success, as Hazim Salih’s apprentices held Al-Talaba to a 0-0 draw on Monday afternoon. The point keeps the 2009 Iraqi champions in contention at the top of Group 2, two points behind leaders Al-Shurta, but having played a game more.

The club’s new coach Hazim Salih, who took over in December after Coach Basim Qasim stepped down because of the team’s financial crisis, which saw majority of their top players released.

The new man in charge has been forced to depend on players from the club’s reserve side, which he had coached before taking the helm of the first team. The players brought in, have very little top flight experience but despite yet to win a game in the league in the two matches under the new regime. They look unlikely to challenge Al-Shurta and Arbil for the league title, but have a few promising young players in their ranks.

Hazim Salih has done a splendid job in his short tenure, with an inexperienced side selected from Duhok’s reserve team from the Kurdistan Regional League, with forward Ziyad Ahmed and left back Haidar Rasim impressing along with the commanding keeper Kawa Dino.

For Talaba, their once loyal supporters to fan favourite and now head coach Abdul-Wahab Abu Al-Hail have become restless after another unproductive season, and continue to lag behind the other top Jamhour clubs in the Iraqi capital. The anxiety in the stands could be heard in the groans and screams of anguish from the home spectators, seeing their team – with only one win in six – struggle to break down the yellow shirts of Duhok.

The home side had three chances in the opening 10 minutes, the best of which was a header that was spurned wide of the goal by last season’s league top scorer Ali Salah. The tall and physical No.10 then took advantage of a loose ball on 16 minutes but Duhok’s left back Haidar Rasim managed to put the forward off, and then five minutes later, a Salih Sadir free-kick from the left flank was headed over the crossbar by defender Mohammed Abdul-Zahra.

The Talaba captain Salih, a former Duhok player like three other of his team-mates, was Al-Aneeq’s main creative threat, given a free role by his coach but the playmaker was able to benefit from a lapse in concentration in the Duhok defence when a long cross-field ball into the penalty area fell to him in the six-yard box, he turned with the ball but his effort was blocked.

Six minutes from half-time, Duhok lost the ball in midfield and the ball arrived at the feet of Salih Sadir, who fed Ali Salah with a pass on the left side of the penalty however the striker fluffed his shot high and wide and out for a goal kick.

At the start of the second half, both coaches made changes, Talaba threw on an extra forward with Marwan Abbas replacing right back Fadhil Muqdad, while the away side made a change in central midfield with Ali Essam taken off for Dilvan Salih.

Only 30 seconds after coming on, Talaba’s No.9 Marwan Abbas, who scored a late equaliser goal away to Al-Minaa, connected to a right wing cross from Ali Salah rising high above the Duhok defence but placed his header over the crossbar. The chance seemed to warm-up the crowd as they banged their drums and chanted, with the Talaba spectators anticipating a goal when Salih Sadir was tripped on the edge of the box. The former Iraq international dusted himself off to take the kick but he blazed over. The home fans frustrations continued.

However that was the best chance Talaba would have, as it was the visitors that had the better of the second half, but without any real potency in front of goal, with their two marksmen in Ziyad Ahmed and Yadkar Younis, with only a few appearances in the Iraqi top flight after being rushed into the club’s first team, leading the front-line.

While Ziyad Ahmed held the ball up well for the away side, constantly battling with Talaba centre backs Walid Bahr and Mohammed Abdul-Zahra it was Yadkar Younis that was the most threatening.

Younis, the diminutive number 8 from Duhok, almost scored on 57 minutes when Khalid Musher direct free-kick from the centre, found in Yadkar in the box, and in a crowd of players, the forward somehow while off balanced, managed to get the ball under control and drove it at Ahmed Ali who tipped the ball over for a corner

Then seconds later, the No.8 put the left back Haidar Rasim through in the box on the left but his squared ball into the six yard box missed everyone and was cleared by Talaba. The Duhok forward seemed to be everywhere and got a yellow for trying to get the ball from Ahmed Ali as he tried to release it, and fouled the keeper a minute later. The Yellow Submarine grew in confidence and it exasperated the home fans.

Talaba had lost their way and were throwing long balls up to forwards Ali Salah and Marwan Abbas which were easily mopped up by the Duhok defence.

A Talaba supporter was seen screaming at the players’ from the stands and the home spectators went silent as nerves set in, with Duhok looking the closest to grabbing a winner. And they did manage to get the ball in the net when substitute Ahmed Jassim tapped the ball past Ahmed Ali Jabur but the forward was at least two yards offside when the ball was played to him and was ruled out for offside.

In stoppage time, central defender Mohammed Hamad, one of the stalwarts for Duhok at the back, had a chance after the ball fell to his feet after Talaba had failed to clear a corner but he kicked over the bar, The home side had a chance but Dino Kawa comfortably held Marwan Abbas’ tame header and seconds later, the referee Falah Abid blew for the final whistle.

The draw leaves Duhok second in Group 2 with 14 points from 7 games, while Talaba’s poor form sees them continue to slip down the table, and are currently fourth with 11 points from 8 matches.

TALABA 0-0 DUHOK

DUHOK: 1 Kawa Dino, 27 Biyar Abu Bakr, 4 Mohammed Hamad, 5 Haidar Rasim, 30 Khalid Musher [c], 14 Bijar Abdul-Wahid (10 Jassim Mohammed Suliman 88),13 Ali Essam (Dilvan Salih 46), 8 Yadkar Younis (33 Ahmed Jassim 69), 23 Amad Ismail, 20 Kamran Khalid, 18 Ziyad Ahmed (6 Shirzad Ahmed 81) COACH: Hazim Salih

TALABA: 1 Ahmed Ali Jabur; 33 Ahmed Issa, 15 Walid Bahr, 25 Aqil Abbas (16 Mohammed Faisal 55), 4 Mohammed Abdul-Zahra, 14 Fadhil Muqdad (9 Marwan Abbas 46), 13 Ahmed Abdu-Amir (7 Ali Rasheed 76), 22 Ali Osama, 6 Salih Sadir [c], 19 Wisam Zaki (2 Nawzad Abdul-Hamed 67), 10 Ali Salah

Referee: Falah Abid Linesmen: Maytham Khamat & Akram Ali Fourth Official: Loay Yousef Cautions: Yadkar Younis 59, Haidar Rasim 87.

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