Sharjah, Shabab Al Ahli buoyant on Arabian Gulf Super Cup prospects - GulfToday

Sharjah, Shabab Al Ahli buoyant on Arabian Gulf Super Cup prospects

Shabab Al Ahli

A Shabab Al Ahli practice session in progress ahead of their Arabian League Super Cup match against Sharjah to be played on Friday. Courtesy: Twitter

In what will be the first title of the current UAE soccer season that’s up for grabs, 2018-19 Arabian Gulf League champions Sharjah will clash with UAE President’s Cup title holders Shabab Al Ahli for the much-coveted Arabian Gulf Super Cup to be played at Al Nasr Club’s Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai on Friday at 8pm.

Being held under the slogan “Our Winter is Super” in alignment with the “World’s Coolest Winter” initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai -- the 13th edition of the Arabian Gulf Super Cup -- marks Sharjah’s second Arabian Gulf Super Cup appearance in the professional era. They claimed their first title in their debut participation when they beat Shabab Al Ahli on penalties in the 2019-20 season.

On the other hand, Shabab Al Ahli took part in the competition six times since 2008, and managed to collect four titles in the 2008-09, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons.  

Ahead of the all-important clash, players of both teams are exuding confidence to walk away with top honours.

Expressing their desire to win the title, both Sharjah captain and defender Shaheen Abdulrahman and Shabab Al Ahli midfielder Majed Hassan described the upcoming match as “difficult for both teams”.

UAE national team defender Shaheen Abdulrahman confirmed the growing ambitions of the King’s players in recent years, as they are now fighting to achieve titles and win competitions, stating that the current generation was crowned 2018-19 Arabian Gulf League champions and 2019-20 Arabian Gulf Super Cup champions.

He said, “as a captain, my ambition grew, and I always strive to win titles. Our target this season is to compete and win all titles, and the Arabian Gulf Super Cup is the first title of the season. The team that wishes to remain at the top have to put in effort.”

Regarding his opinion on Shabab Al Ahli’s impressive offensive performance led by league top scorer Brazilian forward Igor Jesus, he said, “we are used to difficult clashes, and our match with Shabab Al Ahli is one of these matches. The fact that it is a final match makes it even more difficult. Both teams will be fully focused, and I think that Shabab Al Ahli have a strong team overall, but we will do our best to emerge winners and win the title.”

Regarding the absence of fans, he said, “the 2019 Arabian Gulf Super Cup match witnessed big fan presence, and we will undoubtedly miss our loyal fans this season. Their presence has always been a source of motivation for us on the pitch, but we will seek to dedicate the first title of the season to them and we are looking forward for the end of the pandemic and the return of Sharjah fans to support the team.”

On the other hand, Shabab Al Ahli midfielder Hassan said that his fellow Shabab Al Ahli players are looking forward to achieving the Arabian Gulf Super Cup title against Sharjah, saying it will be a good start for the team in all competitions.

He stressed that the Sharjah clash will not be easy at all, and that they need to be physically and technically ready to control the match’s proceedings and put in great effort throughout the match. He confirmed that the players and technical staff are able to deal with the match and limit the Sharjah players’ threat, especially Igor Coronado.

In regard to holding the match behind closed doors, Hassan said, “we miss the fans’ presence in such games. We wish the crisis ends, and the fans return to the stands as soon as possible.”

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