Kalba and Al Nasr eye history; Mahdi rules out complacency - GulfToday

Kalba and Al Nasr eye history; Mahdi rules out complacency

Arabian Gulf Cup

Al Nasr players attend a training session ahead of their second-leg semi-final match of the Arabian Gulf Cup.

Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter

Ittihad Kalba coach Jorge Da Silva is relishing the prospect of booking their berth in the final of the Arabian Gulf Cup (AGC) with a victory over Al Nasr and making history on Tuesday.

In the other semi-final, Mahdi Ali’s Shabab Al Ahli will also look to confirm their ticket for the final with a victory against city rivals Al Wasl.

Kalba have never made it to the final of the AGC. Kalba are going into the match with a lead of one away goal after having defeated Al Nasr 2-1 in the first-leg of the semi-final.

“Everyone is excited to be competing in this match. We are 90 minutes away from making history for Kalba. It will be the first time that Kalba will qualify for the final,” said Da Silva.

“There is a great enthusiasm and great desire among the players to win and qualify for the final. All players want to be a part of this historic game,” he added.

“We’re hoping that the match does not go into the penalties. We aspire and strive to finish the match in the regular time,” wished the Uruguayan.

“We have the advantage in the first leg and we will try to exploit that. We hope to be lucky and successful in making it to the first final in the history of the club,” he expressed his desire.

“The preparation time was short due to the series of matches. Our sole focus is on the recovery of the players from the fatigue of the last match,” concluded the coach.

All the teams are playing back-to-back matches due a jam-packed calendar to make up for the time, which was lost because of the late start of the season due to the pandemic. Kalba playmaker Romulo dos Santos expressed his excitement and sounded optimistic of making it to the final.

“All players are ready for this big match and completely focused. We know how important this match is for the club. We hope to play an excellent game and create history,” said Santos.

Meanwhile Al Nasr coach Ramon Diaz stressed the importance of the match.

“It is a knock out match. It is the last chance to perish or flourish. We will go into match with a positive attitude,” said Diaz.

“We have 90 minutes in front of us that may witness many things, but we will field a full-strength squad,” he apprised.

Diaz also vowed to play attacking game against Kalba and mount pressure on the opponents.

“We will resort to attack and rely on offensive pressure from the beginning of the match to score early goals, which will help us to achieve a positive result to qualify for the final,” he added.

“Tigali is in good condition, but I decided to rest him in the last match so that he has a chance to recover well and be fully prepared for the upcoming matches,” informed the coach about the absence of striker Tigli.

Tigli scored just six goals in 22 matches, including five goals in 17 league rounds, the last of which was against Kalba in the eighth round.

Regarding the historical fact that no team has achieved the Arab Gulf Cup title twice in a row, the coach said: “Football is a crazy game, the scenarios are different and everything is subject to change.

“And we hope to achieve this historic achievement, and I also want to win this title in my first participation in this tournament,” said Diaz, who replaced former coach Krunoslav Jurcic recently.

If Al Nasr are able to overturn the deficit and then go on to win the final, they will become the first team to do so and create history. They lifted the cup under the Jurcic last season.

Al Nasr player Jassim Yaqoub predicted a tough game against Kalba.

“We know the difficulty of the next game. But, we are going through a wonderful period and our spirits are high and we will give everything to return with the boarding pass to the final.

“The coach worked to restore confidence in me and gave me a strong morale boost by showing his faith in me. He praised my capabilities and told me ‘that he would give me the opportunity and help me shine.’”

“I am currently doing my best in training to provide all I have to the team and return to the fold of our national team on the basis of form with the club,” he informed.

Meanwhile, Shabab Al Ahli coach Mahdi Ali ruled out any leniency despite having a two-goal lead from the first-leg.

“We enter the match with qualification in mind, regardless of the outcome of the first match in which we excelled.

“Football only recognizes the performance and efforts you make on the field during the 90 minutes. We will give everything we have in this match to achieve a positive result that puts us in the final,” said coach Mahdli Ali.

“Our competitor Al Wasl are a good team and we respect them.

“Currently they are in good form and playing good football. We are required to have more focus and calm so that we can achieve our goal to reach the final match,” he added.

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