His Majesty’s cup semifinals: Fanja staves off Mirbat fightback

Action from the HM’s Cup first-leg semifinal match between Fanja and Mirbat at the Seeb Sports Stadium on Wednesday (Ahmed al Saidi/Muscat Daily)

Record nine-time champions Fanja failed to exploit an early three-goal lead as Mirbat fought back to go down 2-3 in the first-leg of the 2018-19 His Majesty's Cup semifinals at the Seeb Stadium on Wednesday.

Fanja, which last won its ninth title in 2014, got off to a dream start in front of its large number of home supporters as its African import, Mboto, leapt high to nod in a powerful header for the opening goal off a corner kick in the eighth minute.

The hosts surged ahead again in the 26th minute following a defence-splitting pass that had Al Nawras al Farsi’s shot beat the Mirbat goalkeeper.

And a minute later, a Mirbat defender's poor back pass off a header was seized by Fanja's onrushing Naseeb al Ghailani to give his club a 3-0 lead.

However, Mirbat captain Hussain al Hadhri reduced the margin in the first-half injury time. And the Salalah-based outfit got a crucial second away goal in the injury time of the second half through Musallam Akaak.  The return-leg will be played in Salalah on March 17.

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