GOAL DISALLOWED AS HARPS MISS OUT ON CONTINENTAL QUALIFICATION
Al Shorta's first league defeat in this calendar year has cost them a place in the 2018 Arab Club Championship qualifying play-off as the Harps were overtaken by Al Naft on the last day, finishing the season in third.
The ten-time champions should have gone in front early on at the home of their Basra-based opponents Al Minaa as Abdul-Qadir Tariq burst towards goal but he strangely decided to pass it rather than take the shot and the chance was wasted.
Al Shorta thought they had taken the lead when Tariq converted Marwan Hussein's pull-back but the referee disallowed the goal; the decision left Al Shorta's players in disbelief on the field as they were not sure exactly why the goal was chalked off.
Al Minaa punished Al Shorta's wastefulness right before the break when Ammar Abdul-Hussein capitalised on a poor Faisal Jassim mistake and fired past Ahmed Basil in goal. Abdul-Hussein refused to celebrate against the club where he won the Iraqi Premier League in the 2013-14 season, but nonetheless he had done the damage as Al Shorta went into the break demoralised.
Al Shorta almost equalised in the second half but Mahdi Kamil's header hit the post, while Tariq squandered another chance late on as he blazed over from close range. Al Shorta fans were praying that Amanat Baghdad would take the lead against Al Naft as this would push Al Shorta back up to second, but the opposite happened as Al Naft took the lead and all but sealed Al Shorta's fate. The Police went into the game as the only team that were mathematically able to overtake league leaders Al Quwa Al Jawiya, and yet ended the day moving down a position instead; a real shame considering how well they have played throughout most of this season, particularly under Nadhum Shaker who suffered his first defeat as Al Shorta boss.
So, Al Shorta end the season in third place. While this is a positive thing considering the fact that the club finished in a lowly seventh last season and have had administrative problems throughout the year, to be so close to continental qualification and then watch it all slip away after 11 months of hard work is certainly heartbreaking for Al Shorta's fans. But, now that Ayad Bunyan has returned as the club's president, Al Shorta fans should look positively towards the future. A new stadium and plenty of new players are awaiting in the future, and it is certainly an exciting time to be a Harp.
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