AL SHORTA SHARE THE SPOILS WITH LEAGUE LEADERS AL NAFT
Al Shorta and Al Naft played out a goalless draw in Baghdad on Saturday, and both teams will be disappointed to have lost out on two points in the title race.
The Green Harps, wearing their distinctive purple away kit, limited their opponents to very few chances, but struggled to create many threatening opportunities themselves and were frustrated by Al Naft's organised defence.
Coach Mohamed Youssef introduced attackers Jassim Mohammed and Ahmed Salam to the game in the second period in an attempt to snatch three points at the home of the league leaders, but Al Naft held out for the draw.
While Al Naft do remain top of the league, Naft Al Wasat and Al Quwa Al Jawiya could both overtake the Oil side if they win their games in hand. The race for the title is looking very competitive this year, and with both of these sides dropping points, an opportunity for the likes of Al Zawraa and Al Talaba to capitalise has opened up.
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JASSIM MOHAMMED HEADER SECURES THREE POINTS FOR AL SHORTA
Al Shorta edged past in-form Al Minaa by one goal to nil at Al Shaab Stadium to move into fourth place in the league.
Al Shorta's goal was scored by Jassim Mohammed, who planted a fantastic header into the corner of the net following Amjad Waleed's brilliant cross. Amjad was arguably the man of the match; the Iraq international always looked lively on the ball and towards the end of the game he nutmegged two players in a dazzling run towards goal.
The Police had to sit back towards the end of the game and absorb a lot of pressure that was put on them by the Basra-based side but the Harps didn't find it too difficult to see the game out and collect the important three points.
Al Shorta are still far from being fierce contenders for the title with Al Quwa Al Jawiya, Naft Al Wasat, Al Naft, Al Zawraa and Al Talaba all in more favourable positions, but Al Shorta just need to keep picking up wins if they want to be in with a shot of lifting the golden shield come the end of the season.
AL SHORTA DROP TWO POINTS TO AL NAJAF IN TOUGH AWAY GAME
Ahmed Magdy scored his second goal in three games to salvage a point for the Harps in what was a difficult match at Al Najaf Stadium.
Al Najaf took the lead within four minutes through Ali Ayad's header, and Al Shorta struggled to get into the game in the first period on what was a poor pitch surface.
The second period saw a swing as Al Shorta became dominant and they deservedly equalised when Ahmed Magdy skillfully turned a low cross into the back of the net. Al Shorta couldn't get the win though, and their 15-year winless run in away games against Al Najaf goes on.
Considering that Al Najaf have already beaten Al Quwa Al Jawiya, Amanat Baghdad and Al Talaba this season, a draw to the Desert Gazelles isn't a disastrous result for Al Shorta, but it does push the ten-time champions of Iraq down into fifth place, behind Naft Al Wasat having played three games more. This loss of two points has certainly dented Al Shorta's title hopes but they will hope to put in a better performance in their upcoming game with Basra-based outfit Al Minaa.
AL SHORTA INFLICT FIRST DEFEAT OF THE SEASON ON NAFT AL WASAT
Al Shorta defeated Naft Al Wasat for the first time ever with an impressive 1-0 win away from home, ending Naft Al Wasat's unbeaten run this season that included twelve league games and two Arab Club Championship matches.
The winning goal was scored early on in the second half as a blunder from former Al Shorta goalkeeper Jalal Hassan allowed Amjad Waleed to get in at the back post and tuck the ball into the open net.
Al Shorta defended well and the two outstanding performers in the 'Al Qeetharah' backline were Ahmed Mohammed in the defence and Ahmed Basil between the sticks. Mohammed never gave the opposition's attackers a moment of peace and Basil kept out everything that came his way.
This win has increased the morale in the Al Shorta camp following the four game winless run that severely dented Al Shorta's title challenge. If Al Shorta can grab another three points in Najaf in the next game, the title race may well and truly be back on for the Harps.
DEBUTANT MAGDY SCORES AS AL SHORTA GAIN VALUABLE THREE POINTS
Ten-time champions of Iraq, Al Shorta, got back to winning ways in the Iraqi Premier League as Egyptian loanee Ahmed Magdy scored a cracking goal on his debut.
The midfielder picked up the ball from a tight angle in the 24th minute and slammed it into the 'keeper's far corner to give Al Shorta the lead.
Al Shorta had Hussein Abdul Wahid sent off (second yellow card) in the second half for a supposed elbow on an Amanat Baghdad player but replays showed that Hussein actually did nothing wrong and hopefully his punishment will be rescinded.
This win has come at a good time for Al Shorta who needed a confidence-booster before their next game away from home against one of the title favourites, Naft Al Wasat, who Al Shorta have never beaten before.
AL SHORTA FAIL TO WIN FOR FOURTH GAME IN A ROW
Al Shorta played out a disappointing goalless draw with Naft Al Junoob in what is their fourth straight game without tasting victory.
Morale at Al Shorta is low at the moment and this performance will do little to give fans hope that Al Shorta can mount a serious challenge for the title.
It was a dull game at the Al Zubair Stadium as Naft Al Junoob, who were playing for a draw as they usually do, came out with the point they wanted. Al Shorta's next two games are against two of the league's stronger teams in Amanat Baghdad and Naft Al Wasat, and if they play like they did in the last four games, they may struggle to get three points from either of those games.
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KARBALAA PICK UP FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON AGAINST DISMAL AL SHORTA
Al Shorta continued their poor run of form with a 2-0 defeat at Karbalaa, who themselves picked up their first win of the campaign to move off of bottom spot.
However, as so often has been the case this season, Al Shorta seemed to be playing against twelve men rather than eleven with the referee making baffling decisions that clearly favoured Karbalaa. One of those came very early on; Abdul-Qadir Tariq smashed the ball finely into the back of the net to put Al Shorta a goal ahead but the goal was disallowed by the referee for no apparent reason. Nobody is quite sure why the goal was disallowed and it seemed like another case of daylight robbery, similar to what happened in the goalless draw with Naft Misan earlier in the season.
Nevertheless, Al Shorta didn't deserve to win or even draw the game in truth. Karbalaa went ahead with Jabbar Karim's header which was poorly dealt with by 'keeper Ahmed Basil who was standing in for Noor Sabri, who himself is apparently on vacation. Why that is the case is anyone's guess considering that Al Shorta are in dire need of points at the moment.
And former Al Shorta striker Muhaimen Salim, who scored two goals in the 2012-13 Iraqi Premier League for the Police to help them win their ninth league title, doubled Karbalaa's lead with a cool, composed finish.
Al Shorta's last two performances have been shambolic, and the four games before that weren't great either. With key players being injured (or in Noor Sabri's case, taking time off) and fans turning on manager Mohamed Youssef, life at Al Shorta is not merry at the moment and some serious changes are needed if the ten-time champions of Iraq want to lift any sort of silverware in 2017.
AL SHORTA OUTCLASSED BY JAWIYA IN BAGHDAD DERBY
Al Quwa Al Jawiya convincingly defeated rivals Al Shorta by three goals to one at Al Shaab Stadium on Friday in a game that they should have won by five or six.
Al Shorta, who were unbeaten in the league prior to this match, started quite brightly but found themselves a goal behind on 24 minutes when Bashar Rasan's shot bobbled over the hands of 'keeper Noor Sabri.
The Green Harps seemed to collapse from that point onwards, having almost no shots on goal whatsoever for the rest of the game as Jawiya dominated possession and chances. They should have doubled their lead in the 52nd minute but Hammadi Ahmed placed his shot wide of the far post. But just 25 seconds later, Jawiya were through again and Bashar Rasan slotted the ball home for 2-0.
Jawiya continued to create chances and Al Shorta's defenders constantly panicked, with Kosrat Baez and Hamdy Al-Massri in particular losing the ball right next to the Al Shorta goal on multiple occasions. Hammadi Ahmed was surprisingly wasteful for the AFC Cup holders but former Al Shorta striker Emad Mohsen eventually made it three in the 89th minute, shrugging off Hamdy's weak challenge and confidently finishing past Noor.
Al Shorta finally decided to play some real football after they went three down, and capitalised on Jawiya taking their foot off the pedal to score a consolation goal through a tap-in from Abdul-Qadir Tariq. Al Shorta's performance was truly woeful and they have now gone behind Al Naft in the table. Their chances of winning the league will be extremely slim if they continue to play like they did in this game, and Al Shorta fans will have to hope that the imminent returns of Iraq international defenders Essam Yassin and Waleed Salem will help to shore up a leaky back line.
BAGHDAD DERBY ENDS GOALLESS BETWEEN AL SHORTA AND AL ZAWRAA
Al Shorta and Al Zawraa played out a largely dull 0-0 draw on Sunday at Al Shaab Stadium, as the Police failed to capitalise on Naft Al Wasat's surprise 1-1 draw to Erbil a day earlier.
A win for 'Al Qeetharah' would have seen them move to the top of the league, but they didn't create enough clear opportunities against a poor Al Zawraa side, who looked a shadow of the team that won the league unbeaten last season.
Al Shorta started the game very well in fact, with Amjad Waleed coming desperately close to scoring with a close range header that hit the side netting in the opening exchanges of the match. The first half was practically all Al Shorta, who were donning their new purple away kit manufactured by Adidas, as Mahdi Kamil saw a long range effort go wide and Abdul-Qadir Tariq nearly scored with a scramble in the box a few minutes later.
With only 15 minutes on the clock, Al Shorta created their fourth major chance of the game when right-back Faisal Jassim swung in a great cross but former Al Shorta defender Karrar Mohammed did very well to prevent Marwan Hussein from heading it into the net. The resulting corner saw Hamdy Al-Massri head the ball straight into the arms of Al Zawraa 'keeper Mohammed Gassid, another former Al Shorta man who won two league titles with the Harps.
Al Zawraa gradually got back into the game but most of their chances were long shots from Alaa Abdul-Zahra, yet another former Al Shorta player who many feel shouldn't have been on the pitch, having somehow escaped a ban for violent conduct in Al Zawraa's game with Naft Al Wasat. Al Zawraa's best chance was a header that went just past Noor Sabri's post, but overall Noor had very little to do in the game.
The first half was quite lively but the second half was anything but that. The referee constantly stopped the game whenever a player went to ground rather than playing advantage or continuing the game, and it made the pace of the game very slow. Mohamed Youssef then decided to take off Al Shorta's two strikers and play for the draw, which Al Shorta managed to get. The Police now sit in second place in the league, two points behind Naft Al Wasat, but Al Naft who are in third have a game in hand over Al Shorta and are just two points behind. Al Shorta's next game is another Baghdad Derby, this time against AFC Cup holders Al Quwa Al Jawiya.
AL SHORTA WIN AGAIN WITH TIGHT BUT DESERVED WIN OVER AL KAHRABAA
Al Shorta's longest-serving current player and captain Amjad Kalaf scored the only goal of the game as Al Shorta claimed their fourth straight victory in the league with a 1-0 triumph over winless Al Kahrabaa.
The first half was largely uneventful until the final minute of the period when Hussein Abdul Wahid played a perfectly-weighted chipped through ball onto the chest of Amjad Kalaf who controlled it expertly and cleverly flicked it over the 'keeper to make it 1-0.
The performance of both sides improved in the second half but Al Kahrabaa failed to break down Al Shorta's resolute defence while Al Shorta were too wasteful to increase their lead and put the game to bed. The referee's performance was poor and his harsh booking on Hussein Abdul Wahid now means that Hussein will miss Al Shorta's next league game.
And that league game isn't just any old game, it's one of the biggest derby matches in Iraq between Al Shorta and the reigning Iraqi Premier League champions, Al Zawraa. That will be a real test for Al Shorta, and their next game after that one is against 2016 AFC Cup winners Al Quwa Al Jawiya in another fierce derby. These two games will provide a real indicator in terms of whether Al Shorta are seriously in with a chance of winning their eleventh league title or whether they aren't quite up for the challenge just yet.
ABDUL-QADIR TARIQ SCORES INJURY TIME WINNER AS AL SHORTA MOVE UP TO SECOND
Abdul-Qadir Tariq scored a stoppage time winner as Al Shorta edged struggling Zakho by two goals to one to move up to second place in the league table.
Al Shorta, wearing their new Adidas home kit at the Zakho International Stadium, won a penalty in the 21st minute when Amjad Kalaf was brought down from behind, and Marwan Hussein confidently smashed it down the middle to score his sixth of the season and make him the current top scorer of the league.
Al Shorta weren't performing up to the standards that the fans would have hoped for and Zakho capitalised on some sloppy defending to equalise when Honar Ahmed went through and put the ball on a plate for Ibrahim Bash who netted.
The Police pushed and pushed for a winning goal and finally in the 92nd minute they got it when Ali Lateef's long ball was brilliantly headed into the box by Jassim Mohammed and was neatly controlled and tucked away by Abdul-Qadir Tariq for his second Al Shorta goal.
'Al Qeetharah' didn't play all too well in the game but as the saying goes, true champions win games even when they don't play at their best and as long as Al Shorta keep on racking up the points, they will continue to be in with a shout of winning their eleventh league title.
CLINICAL MARWAN HUSSEIN HATTRICK SINKS AL HUDOD
Marwan Hussein scored a brilliant hattrick to give Al Shorta a deserved 3-2 win over Al Hudod and move closer to the top of the table.
Al Hudod took a surprise lead at Al Shaab Stadium 35 minutes into the game when Henri Jaudel Ambo converted from the penalty spot following a clumsy foul from Faisal Jassim. However, Faisal fouled the Al Hudod player just outside of the penalty area, so Al Hudod should have been awarded a free kick rather than a penalty.
Al Shorta replied right at the start of the second half when Marwan Hussein smashed the ball past the 'keeper with his wrong foot in what was a fantastic goal. Al Shorta were then awarded a penalty in the 72nd minute, with captain Amjad Kalaf stepping up to take. Amjad's effort was saved but Marwan Hussein was on hand to blast in the rebound, again with his weaker foot, to put the Harps ahead.
Al Shorta were in full control of the game but a poor decision by the linesman to give Al Hudod a corner when in fact Al Shorta should have been given a goal kick led to Al Hudod equalising through an unfortunate own goal from the usually reliable Kosrat Baez.
Al Shorta fans were worried that they would be cheated out of another victory following the farce that happened in the Naft Misan game, but Marwan Hussein had other ideas as he burst through on goal on 84 minutes and coolly fired the ball into the back of the net with his wrong foot again to put the game to bed. Unbeaten Al Shorta are now in fourth position in the table, but with a game in hand over the three teams above them.
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AL SHORTA SMASH FOUR PAST AL KARKH AS AMJAD KALAF SCORES BRACE
Captain Amjad Kalaf scored his 59th and 60th goals in an Al Shorta shirt to fire "Al Qeetharah" to a comfortable 4-0 disposal of struggling Al Karkh.
Amjad Waleed scored his second goal of the season to open the scoring, tapping the ball in from Amjad Kalaf's lay-off. Some poor defending from Al Karkh saw Amjad Kalaf double the Police's lead near the end of the first half with a well-timed header over the 'keeper.
Al Shorta continued their domination of the encounter into the second half at Al Shaab Stadium, as Amjad Waleed burst towards goal and pulled the ball back for Amjad Kalaf to tap home his 60th goal for the club since he joined in 2007.
And Iraq international striker Abdul-Qadir Tariq scored his first goal for Al Shorta when he converted from the penalty spot in the 68th minute. Mohamed Youssef's men sit in fourth place in the table following Amanat Baghdad's 2-1 win over Al Zawraa, and their next league game is against Al Hudod at Al Shaab Stadium on 26 November.
POOR REFEREEING DECISION ROBS AL SHORTA OF THREE POINTS IN MISAN
Al Shorta were disallowed a perfectly legitimate goal against Naft Misan as the Green Harps were left with just a point from their efforts in the game.
Amjad Kalaf swung a cross into the box and Jassim Mohammed headed it into the back of the net as the Al Shorta fans, who were forced to stand up on the edge of the pitch and weren't allowed to sit down on the seats despite trekking from Baghdad to Misan, celebrated wildly as they thought their team had taken a deserved lead.
But the referee ruled the goal out on the basis that the ball had gone off of the pitch before Amjad Kalaf had put it into the box. Perfectly captured pictures from photographer Alaa Al-Saadi, one of which is shown on the left, showed that the ball didn't even touch the white line, let alone go completely over it. It was an appalling decision and it denied Al Shorta a deserved three points.
AL SHORTA SMASH FOUR PAST AL SEMAWAH TO MOVE UP TO THIRD PLACE
Al Shorta produced a brilliant performance to crush Al Semawah 4-1 as Marwan Hussein bagged his first two goals of the season.
Iraq international midfielder Mahdi Kamil opened the scoring on 11 minutes with a tidy finish from captain Amjad Kalaf's cut-back. Marwan Hussein doubled the lead towards the end of the first half when he headed into the bottom-right corner of the Al Semawah goal.
Jassim Mohammed capitalised on an Al Semawah mistake right at the start of the second half to round the 'keeper and make it three, before Al Shorta took their foot off the gas and slowed the game down as it was already in the bag.
Hassan Abbas scored for Al Semawah towards the end of the game but Marwan Hussein notched his second of the game right at the death to add gloss to the already favourable scoreline for the Harps. Al Shorta are now in third place in the league, at least temporarily, and will face Naft Misan in their next game on Tuesday.
AL SHORTA EARN FIRST THREE POINTS OF THE SEASON WITH 2-1 VICTORY
Headers from captain Amjad Kalaf and new signing Jassim Mohammed in the first half ensured that Al Shorta claimed their first three points of the season to temporarily move up to third place.
It took 32 minutes for the deadlock to be broken but Amjad Kalaf scored his first goal of the season just past the half-hour mark with a fantastic header to put his side a goal up.
And just three minutes later, striker Jassim Mohammed doubled Al Qeetharah's lead with another well-taken header.
Al Bahri managed to find a goal with eight minutes left on the clock when they slid the ball underneath Noor Sabri in the Al Shorta goal but Al Shorta managed to hold on for a crucial win that sees them move up to third in the table, although they will almost definitely drop a few positions after tomorrow's games.
AL SHORTA DROP TWO POINTS AGAINST NEWLY-PROMOTED SIDE AL HUSSEIN IN BAGHDAD
Al Shorta disappointingly failed to come away from their second game of the season with three points as they played out a 1-1 tie with league newcomers Al Hussein.
The first half was a dull affair with neither side finding the back of the net but Al Hussein took a surprise lead when Haider Nino fired in on 51 minutes.
It didn't take long for Al Shorta to reply though as they won a penalty within three minutes which was coolly converted by set-piece specialist Waleed Salem.
Al Shorta pushed and probed for an equaliser but Al Hussein held on well and the game ended as a 1-1 draw; Al Shorta will be disappointed not to have beaten the dogged newcomers but they will have another chance to claim three points against a newly-promoted club as they face Al Bahri in their third league game in a few days' time.
AL SHORTA KICK OFF NEW SEASON WITH ENTERTAINING BAGHDAD DERBY DRAW
Traditional rivals Al Shorta and Al Talaba shared the spoils on the opening day of the 2016-17 Iraqi Premier League.
Al Shorta dominated the first half an hour and took a deserved lead when Amjad Waleed capitalised on a defensive error to side-foot into an open net for his first goal in an Al Shorta shirt.
The lead didn't last too long though as Al Talaba equalised on the brink of half-time through a header from Iraq international midfielder Samer Saeed.
The second half was more of an even affair with Al Talaba squandering numerous chances with the brilliant Noor Sabri making a fantastic save towards the end of the game in the Al Shorta goal. Al Shorta's new striker Jassim Mohammed was also wasteful in front of goal as the game ended in stalemate.
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