Sharjah players in training on Friday, ahead of their Arabian Gulf Super Cup title match against Shabab Al Ahli on Saturday.
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Sharjah will look to live up to the reputation of being the champions when they take on Shabab Al Ahli in the traditional curtain-raiser of the season Arabian Gulf Super Cup on Saturday. Winning the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) title ensured Sharjah a berth in the Super Cup, while Shabab Al Ahli come into the game on the back of winning the UAE President’s Cup.
The Super Cup serves as a prelude to an action-packed season, where 14 teams battle it out for top honours to emerge winners after a grueling fight that often goes down to the wire.
Despite having a rough start to the Arabian Gulf Cup (AGC), where Sharjah lost two of their opening matches only to bounce back against Ajman, Sharjah coach Abdulaziz Al Anberi is confident of winning the Super Cup.
One of the main pillars behind Sharjah’s exceptional last season was Anberi, who chose a suitable formation that fits his side’s strengths and weaknesses that he had figured early on the season.
Anberi said: “We hope a very good game for everybody. We hope we can deliver tomorrow. It will be an exciting game and everybody wants to win. We are keeping that mentality and we will do our best to win.
He ruled out any extra pressure of being defending champions. He is the first Emirati coach to guide is team to the league title.
“It does not add to any extra pressure; rather it is a big motivation for us. The Super Cup will be a good start. We know our team very well, we know Shabab Al Ahli very well also. It is going to be a good start for both the teams.”
Commenting on the disappointing start in the AGC and then bouncing back against Ajman with a five-goal romp, he said: “After each game I congratulate my players as it is the effort that is counted.
“In the second half of the last game against Ajman we played with our main players and it delivered the desired result.
“Actually we are working and doing everything to be in the top four. We contracted some new players and I think that will help the team. This new players will support the team more. And we know we can have a good result.”
Sharjah’s playmaker Igor Coronado also predicted a tough game tomorrow, saying: “Regarding the last year, we won both the games against Shabab Al Ahli but we remember how difficult the games were and we had to run hard and they had more possession throughout the match but we were more clinical and we managed to pull it off.
“For tomorrow’s game, we are prepared very well. We are very focused and we have a lot of respect for the other team.”
Commenting on his team-mate and the hat-trick hero against Ajman, Ricardo Gomes, he said: “He has been here for a short time now and we have seen his qualities and how he can score goals.
“Being his team-mate it takes a lot of weight off your back. He scored a hat-trick against Ajman and we defeated them 5-0. We are very happy for him. We played a couple of game with Ricardo. He is very friendly and jelling with the team exceptionally well.”
Meanwhile, Shabab Al Ahli coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena exuded confidence in his team but predicted a tough match: “It is a very important match for two top teams and we don’t have any surprises for each other. The match is difficult but both teams are ready.”
Commenting on Waleed Abbas and Esmail Al Hamadi he said: “I can’t speak about the players before the match. I will decide later whether I will use them in the match.
“All the players are ready but Mana Mohammad and Abdul Aziz Sangoor will not feature due to injuries.
“It is a difficult match and both the teams want to win. Both the teams are hungry and want to start the season on a winning note,” he stressed
He also ruled out that the defeat against Sharjah in both the matches last season will have any bearing on the outcome of this match.
“We will try not to think that we lost to Sharjah in the AGL matches two times last season. We need to concentrate more on the game to win it the third time.
“The most important thing will be what happens on the field tomorrow based on the experience of the players. I am telling them to enjoy the match without pressure and result will follow.
“I see both the teams have a goal and their own tactics. But I can’t predict what will happen tomorrow. We have to consider the weather and humidity and it surely will have a bearing on the performance of the players.
“I am sure Sharjah will play well so we have to do our best I hope we can enjoy a good match with the better team winning. We have to fight and cannot depend on luck,” he concluded.
Mohammed Jaber said: “Always winning the trophies and we know the importance of this match and we are ready for it. I hope the fans will come and support us.”
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