Holders Al Nahda edge Al Nasr to enter HM’s Cup football final

Sports Tuesday 12/March/2024 19:00 PM
By: Times News Service
Holders Al Nahda edge Al Nasr to enter HM’s Cup football final

Muscat: Defending champions Al Nahda set up a mouth-watering summit clash with ten-time record winners Dhofar in the 2023-24 His Majesty’s Cup Football Championship on Monday night.

The holders edged past five-time champions and hosts Al Nasr in the second-leg semi-final at the Al Saada Sports Complex in Salalah 1-0 to book a spot in the final with an aggregate 2-1 win. The teams were locked 1-1 in the first-leg, played at the Buraimi Sports Complex last month.

Dhofar had reached the final on Sunday night at the same venue with a narrow 1-0 aggregate win over Bahla.

Coached by Hamad Al Azani, Al Nahda’s all-important goal came in extra-time after the teams were locked goalless at the end of regulation time.

Al Nahda’s 28-year-old professional striker from DR Congo, Walter Bwalya, nodded in a superb header off a free-kick delivered by Ahmed Al Kaabi from the top of the box to give the Green Brigade the decisive goal.

Al Nahda, who won the maiden HM’s Cup title and the Omantel League crown for a grand double last season, will be hoping to defend the title against the experienced rivals Dhofar.

In last year’s final, Al Nahda got the better of Seeb to claim the title. They are currently trailing Seeb in the Omantel League at second place with 26 points. Seeb are on top of the league with 35 points after 13 rounds.

Dhofar will feature in the 17th final of the Sultanate’s most prestigious competition. They last played in the 2021-22 final and clinched their record tenth title after a 5-1 win over Al Suwaiq. The first title came in 1977. Dhofar have lost the final on six occasions.

Al Nahda’s rise in domestic football began in 2006-2007 when they won the domestic league title and the following year reached the HM’s Cup final for the first time.  Since then they have featured in four HM’s Cup finals. In the league, they have won titles previously in 2008-09, 2013-14, and 2022-23.

Al Nahda’s march into the final saw them edge former champions Seeb in the double-leg quarter-finals with an aggregate 2-1 win.  In the last-16 round, the Buraimi heavyweights had defeated former champions Sur. Given the current form of his team, coach Azani can look forward to his boys defending the title.  The final is expected to be held after the holy month of Ramadan.