Heartbreak for Mosimane in Saudi as Abha Club relegated on final day

27 May 2024 - 23:05
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Abha Club coach Pitso Mosimane.
Abha Club coach Pitso Mosimane.
Image: Abha Club/X

Pitso Mosimane’s Abha Club could not get the win they needed against last-placed Al Hazm in Monday night’s final round of matches so were relegated from the Saudi Pro League.

Abha’s appalling away record continued as they spurned a 1-0 lead from Ahmed Abdu’s 47th-minute opener to concede goals by Muhammed Badamosi (58th) and Mohammed Al Thani (80th) and run out 2-1 losers at Ar-Rass Stadium.

The relegation comes as a huge disappointment, especially after Abha put themselves in with an excellent chance of surviving the drop by winning their second-last game on Thursday 2-1 at home against Al-Khaleej.

That result saw Abha in 15th place in the 18-team league where the bottom three are relegated, a point above Al-Akhdoud in the relegation zone and needing only a win against Al-Hazm to survive.

But Abha’s rollercoaster form and especially their poor record on the road cost them again. Their defeat on Monday night came as Akhdoud managed a 2-0 away win against second-last-placed Al-Tai away from home to leapfrog Abha into 15th place on 33 points and safety.

Mosimane’s team ended in 16th place on 32 points, Al-Tai had 31 and Al-Hazm 24.

Al-Riyadh also won 2-1 away against Al-Khaleej to remain in safety in 14th place.

After some initial success after joining Abha, then in 17th place, in January, Mosimane’s side faced a huge setback with an 8-0 home defeat against second-placed Al-Nassr, inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick, on April 2.

That demoralising result set off a series of other defeats, particularly in away matches, that would be followed by Abha bouncing back in home games as they kept their hopes alive.

Abha would have had high hopes of reversing that poor away form against already relegated, last-placed Hazm, but it was not to be.

It was Abha’s almost non-existent defence that cost them their place in the Saudi top flight.

In their eight games that followed the Al-Nassr mauling, Abha won three matches but lost four, including a 5-0 defeat away against Al-Shabab, 4-0 away loss against Akhdoud and 5-1 away defeat to Al-Ahli.

Champions Al-Hilal ended with a 2-1 away win against Al-Wehda to finish on 96 points. Ronaldo's Al-Nassr won 4-2 at home against Al-Ittihad to end in second place on 82 points, 17 above third-placed Al-Ahli (65).

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