Hienghéne Sport fought hard against Al-Sadd and impressed all the fooball world with a close match against a full-professional side, current the title holders of Qatar first tier.
Hienghène used a defensive formation to avoid spaces for the opposition side. They were succesful until the 26th minute of play when Baghdad Bounedjah found the nets for Al-Sadd for the first, winning Rocky Nyikeine and putting the Xavi Hernández side in front.
Al-Sadd kept creating many opportunities to score, in fact they did score a second goal in the match still in the first half but VAR came in aid of the Oceania champions to disallow the 2nd goal of Al-Sadd.
In the beggining of the second half of the match, history was written by the New Caledonian striker Antoine Roine – the same who scored from the middle of the park against AS Magenta in the OFC Champions League grand final. He won the battle with the defender and found the nets of Al-Sheeb to put the 1-1 in the score. A foul was awarded to Al-Sadd by the referee in the play, but VAR stated it was all clear and the goal was finally in the scoreboard.
Al-Sadd after suffering the equalizer seemed to not believe what was happening. The New Caledonians have scored and got morale boost – Joseph Athalé was doing great in the defense to help Hienghène. Al-Sadd had another disallowed goal by VAR in the second half, but created many chances to score, sometimes the Qatari inaccuracy prevented Hienghène to suffer one more goal, but Rocky Nyikeine managed to make various important stops in order to help Hienghène to keep the game equalized.
Something no one expected happened: Hienghène managed to 1-1 draw in the 90 minutes and the game went to extra-time. Al-Sadd kept losing chances, but unfortunately a mistake helped Abdelkarim Hassan to score the second goal of Al-Sadd. Cédric Sansot intercepted a ball that went in direction of Nyikeine, unfortunately the goalkeeper used his hand to grab the ball – a back pass, that made the referee to give a free-kick inside the box for Al-Sadd that was well taken by Hassan.
In the second half of the extra-time, Nyikeine recovered from the error and made decent stops, but Pedro Miguel found the nets once again for Al-Sadd with powerful shot in the edge of the box.
The match ended with a 3-1 victory for the home side that will now face Mexican club Monterrey. Hienghène surely made all their people in New Caledonia with a good performance despite the defeat. Football commentators praised Joseph Athalé and Rocky Niykeine for their fantastic match.
Hienghène suffered and got very tired in the final minutes of the game and in the extra-time. The lack physical conditioning of the Oceanians was the crucial part of the game that made them lost to Al-Sadd; maybe the story could be told differently if the New Caledonians did not get so tired in the final moments of the clash.
Hienghène now turns their attentions to the next edition of OFC Champions League that starts in 2020, February for the current title holders that will expect to defend their continental glory.