Shabab Al Ahli begin AGC title defence against Al Ain - GulfToday

Shabab Al Ahli begin AGC title defence against Al Ain

Shabab Al Ahli begin AGC   title defence against Al Ain

Shabab Al Ahli players attend a training session ahead of their AGC match against Al Ain.

Sharjah: Shabab Al Ahli will begin their title defence against Al Ain at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on Day 2 of Matchweek 1 on Friday.

Shabab Al Ahli coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena predicted a tough game against Al Ain, saying: “Al Ain are a good side and we are expecting a tough match against them. We have a very strong squad and I am happy with the group of players that I have to choose from.

“My focus is how to get the best of the youngsters. I will try out the players who have not played before in the previous season to make a strong squad for the future.”

The reigning champions completed the signing of Argentine Federico Cartabia from Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna, and Swiss David Mariani from Bulgarian side Levski Sofia. Mariani also sounded confident and promised to give his best to the team.

He said: “This league is new for me because I am coming here to the UAE for the first time, and I look at this positively.

“I will try to adapt to the situation as per the team’s requirements,” he added.

Meanwhile, Al Ain were eliminated from the last edition after loss against Bani Yas in the quarter-final.

Al Ain also bolstered their squad ahead of the new season. They hired Croatian coach Ivan Leko to succeed in place of Argentine manager Juan Carlos Garrido and also added more teeth to their attack with the signings of Caio Canedo and Mohamed Hilal.

In the other matches on Friday, Al Nasr face Ittihad Kalba at Al Maktoum Stadium at 19.15. They will hope for a fresh start after their disappointing results last season.

Al Wahda will take on Fujairah at Al Nahyan Stadium. The Clarets were one step away from winning last season’s title but lost to Shabab Al Ahli in the final game.

To face the challenges of the new season, Al Wahda hired Dutch coach Maurice Steijn to succeed fellow countryman Henk ten Cate.

Fujairah, who survived relegation after a tough battle, also roped in a number of players including Liberian William Jebor.

Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter

Related articles