Ahli-Sidab retains HM’s Cup in Style

Defending champion Ahli-Sidab trounced Muscat 5-1 in the final to retain the 42nd His Majesty's Cup Hockey Championship on Tuesday. In a lopsided affair at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, coach K K Poonacha's team went 3-0 up in the first half and eventually wrapped up a comfortable victory to clinch the crown for the third time since Sidab merged with Al Ahli in 2004.

Indian dragflicker Darshan Dalavai and former Oman international Sameer Hulais scored a brace each for Ahli-Sidab while national team player Salah Nasser added one to extend Muscat's misery. Egyptian player Mohammed Sameer reduced the margin for the losers. “We were expecting this victory all along, but we didn't quite foresee it would come with such a big margin,” Ahli-Sidab coach Poonacha told Muscat Daily after the win.

“We faced lesser pressure in this match compared to the high-pressure semifinals against Al Nasr - that was the key. Once we beat Al Nasr twice, we knew we just had to stay focussed in today's final.” Dalavai opened the scoring in the 19th minute and Nasser quickly made it 2-0 two minutes later. Dalavai then added another one in the 29th minute.

Hulais joined the goal-fest with a 49thminute strike as Ahli-Sidab went 4-0 up. Four minutes on, Muscat pulled one back through Mohammed Sameer before Hulais again struck in the 57th minute. H E Mohammed al Rumhy, Minister of Oil and Gas, gave away the awards. H E Sheikh Saad al Saadi, Minister of Sports Affairs, Oman Hockey Association chairman Dawood al Raisi and other officials were also present

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