Shabab Al Ahli beat Al Nasr, lift tenth President’s Cup - GulfToday

Shabab Al Ahli beat Al Nasr, lift tenth President’s Cup


Players of Shabab Al Ahli celebrate with the trophy after winning the President’s Cup final on Sunday. Courtesy: Twitter

Shabab Al Ahli defeated Al Nasr 2-1 in the final of the President’s Cup to successfully defend the prestigious title at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on Sunday.

Cartabia was on target twice to lead Shabab Al Ahli to victory. He broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute to give Shabab Al Ahli 1-0 lead.

He netted the ball in the centre of the goal off a penalty kick. Al Nasr tried hard to restore the parity but they failed to penetrate the tight defence of Shabab Al Ahli.

In the 78th minute, Abied Mehdi struck for Al Nasr and leveled the score. The score was tied at the end of regular time. Cartabia slotted a late winner in the extra time to make it 2-1 and hand Shabab Al Ahli another trophy of the season.

The victory added another feather to coach Mahdi Ali’s cap as Shabab Al Ahli have witnessed a drastic change in fortune since he took over.

The return of Mehdi Ali at the helm turned them from mere a perennial makeweights to one of the top contenders at the domestic circuit.

Ali replaced Spain’s Gerard Zaragoza to take over the reins of the Dubai club once again. When Ali was reinstated, Shabab Al Ahli were at the seventh spot in the league with no silverware in sights.

But not only Ali guided them to Arabian Gulf Cup glory to salvage the season but also steered them to the third place. Shabab Al Ahli defeated Sharjah 1-0 to win Arabian Gulf Super Cup for the record fifth time in the beginning of the year in Januray.

With the victory in the final, Mahdi Ali’s side sealed a direct qualification in the Asian Champions League group stages and avoided the jitters of playing in the grueling qualifiers. The winner of the President’s Cup is guaranteed a direct path to Asian Champions League.

In the present format, top two Arabian Gulf League teams get direct entry to the group stages of the Asian Champions League and third has to play in qualifiers to earn a spot. Shabab Al Ahli had finished third wit 55 points.

Earlier, The UAE Football Association (UAE FA), in coordination with the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA), decided to allow fans for the Presidents Cup final.

The UAEFA allowed fans at a maximum of 30 per cent capacity of the stadium. Fans who have already been vaccinated were allowed to attend the final. Further, they were asked to produce a negative RT-PCR test result, and conducted 48 hours ahead of the match.

The fans with a gold star status or ‘E’ on the Al Hosn app were allowed into the stadium.

“It’s the first official event that only vaccine recipients and its clinical trials participants were allowed to attend,” stated a statement.

The UAEFA considered this as an experiment so that they could allow fans for the World Cup Qualifiers in June.

“Accordingly, the experience was be evaluated, and the return of fans to the stands will be reconsidered during the next phase of the World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers,” the NCEMA added.

The President’s Cup was established in 1974 and the reigning champions are Shabab Al-Ahli. The 2019-20 edition of the tournament had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Red Knights are also the most successful club in the competition as they have won the championship nine times. They are closely followed by Sharjah FC with eight titles.

Related articles