Qatar’s Al Sadd were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Sharjah FC of the United Arab Emirates in their AFC Champions League opener at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Monday.
Al Sadd were the better side but Baghdad Bounedjah’s missed penalty in the second half cost them dearly as Sharjah grabbed a valuable point in Group B clash. Having Cosmin Olaroius’ side pinned in their own half, Al Sadd should have gone ahead in the third minute when Bounedjah teed up Akram Afif, who wasted his effort from just above the box.
Just minutes later, Afif once again found space in a similar position only for the forward to blast his curling effort high over the bar.
Sharjah barely troubled the Al Sadd backline with Miralem Pjanic the most threatening when he fed Ousmane Camara through on goal only for the Guinean to be flagged offside before trying it again with Firas Ben Arbi, garnering the same result. Al Sadd came close to scoring just after the half-hour mark when Afif sent a delightful ball off a set-piece situation into the path of Mohamed Waad, who flicked his header just above the bar.
Afif kept Sharjah on their toes with his dangerous run-ins and set up Hassan al-Haydos nicely at the top of the six-yard box in the 39th minute, only for the Al Sadd captain to strike his effort straight into the arms of Sharjah keeper Adel al-Hosani.
Both sides continued to toil in front of goal with Sharjah’s Caio Lucas coming within range when he angled his effort from distance over the bar, while Bounedjah failed to find the target from inside the box in first half added time.
Sharjah started the second half with more aggression and came close to breaking the deadlock in the 48th minute when Lucas steered his header just wide off Pjanic’s corner. Al Sadd wasted a golden opportunity to snatch the lead with Bounedjah smashing his spot-kick against the left post just before the hour-mark.
Sharjah should have scored three minutes later when Ben Arbi sent a delightful ball into the box off a set-piece situation only for Konstantinos Manolas to miss his header from close range as both sides had to be content with a share of the points. Sadd’s next match is against Uzbek side Nasaf on October 2. On Monday, a late Zafarmurod Abdurahmatov strike handed Nasaf a valuable 1-0 win over Jordan’s Al Faisaly.
Al Sadd’s midfielder Boualem Khoukhi (right) and Sharjah’s defender Hamad Fahad vie for the ball during the AFC Champions League Group B match at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Monday. (AFP)