Maccabi Haifa’s Mohammad Abu Fani has become a hero to his team’s fans and an internet sensation for the unlikeliest of reasons — time-wasting.
The diminutive soccer star was credited with helping his team seal a crucial victory this week, not by scoring goals, but by keeping the ball near the opposition corner flag for over two minutes until the game ended.
Taking the ball to the corner flag is a classic tactic as teams look to run the clock down in games, but Abu Fani, an Israel international, turned it into an art form during Monday’s game.
Deep into extra time, with Haifa 3-2 up over Maccabi Tel Aviv, Abu Fani received the ball from a short corner. He managed to use his strength and skill to keep several frantic Tel Aviv players off the ball before winning another corner and repeating the performance several more times.
After the ball went out for a Haifa throw-in, Abu Fani then pretended he thought he had another corner kick, wasting several more valuable seconds, all while the Tel Aviv players and even the referee appeared to become increasingly frustrated with him.
But his teammates and fans were delighted with his artistry, clearly grinning at the performance and mobbing him with delight when the final whistle went with him having kept the ball in the corner for over 2 minutes.
Video of the display has since gone viral on the internet with one fan on Reddit calling it “the greatest piece of time-wasting ever.”
“That’s such a world-class time-wasting I’ve never seen anything like this before,” wrote another commentator on YouTube.
The cameo capped a great evening for Haifa who were down 2-0 with just 13 minutes of normal time left.
The result sees them climb to second in Israel’s Premier League, just two points behind Hapoel Beersheba.