Players of Sharjah celebrate with the trophy after beating Shabab Al Ahli in the Super Cup match in Dubai.
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Sharjah defeated Shabab Al Ahli 4-3 via penalties to claim the Arabian Gulf Super Cup at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai on Saturday. Earlier, both Shabab Al Ahli and Sharjah did try to break the deadlock but the former were more aggressive as they created more chances in the first-half.
However they failed to penetrate the water-tight defence of Sharjah, who have been a prodigy of parsimony in terms of conceding goals since the last season when they won the domestic league title.
Sharjah’s Igor Cronoado almost broke the stalemate in the 25th minute, hitting the ball hard straight into the goal post before Shabab Al Ahli’s goalkeeper made a brilliant save to keep the Arabian Gulf League champions at bay for a little while more.
Sharjah’s coach Abdulaziz Anberi, the master strategist, once again looked to deploy the same tactics as that of the last season which made penetrating Sharjah’s defensive line a tough job.
And their offensive line, which wasn’t one of the strongest in the league last year, has also been bolstered by the arrival of Ricardo Gomes, who smashed an impressive hat-trick against Ajman to fetch them their first win at the Arabian Gulf Cup’s third round match after two consecutive losses.
Twelve minutes later, Saleh Al Hasan of Sharjah was handed a red card for a dangerous tackle against Shabab Al Ahli’s Abdulaziz Hussain Al Mubarak with his elbow, which resulted in him being sent off the ground, reducing the Kings to ten men.
Despite the continuous efforts from both the teams, the first-half ended in a goalless draw. Shabab Al Ahli played a firebrand football in the first-half as they had 68 per cent possession.
Sharjah made first substitution in the 46th minute when Omar Juma was replaced by Mohamed Al Shehhi just after the half-time break. Luvannor smashed a spectacular bicycle kick in the 52nd minute in a bid to find the net but his attempt to give Shabab Al Ahli lead ended in another wasted chances as Sharjah’s Ali Al Dhanani deflected the ball to keep a clean sheet.
Shabab Al Ahli, despite having the more possession and playing an attacking game, failed to convert the half-chances into goals while Sharjah looked contended to be in the defensive mode. Sahbab Al Ahli had their second substitution in the 60th minute, calling Federico Nicolas Cartabia for David Graziano Marinai. Hoping to extend their winning run in the new season, Sharjah made a number of important transfers during the summer window.
Kings added Cape Verdean Ricardo Gomes to their ranks to replace Welliton who joined Al Wasl. They also completed the signing of Salim Sultan, Mohammed Abdulbasit and Tareq Al-Khodaim from Al Wahda, and signed Mohamed Khalfan from Fujairah.
But a new-look Sharjah did not look to resonate well with the coach’s frequency and found it difficult to execute the plans on the pitch.
They did not look even the pale shadow of the side who routed Ajman 5-0 in their last game of the Arabian Gulf Cup.
Sharjah had a rough start to the season as they had to face defeats against Bani Yas and Al Wahda before bouncing back against Ajman.
Shabab Al Ahli looked more prepared for the new season as they earned seven points from three games after a draw with Al Ain, before beating Al Jazira and Al Nasr in the Arabian Gulf Cup. Their most in-form player is Mohamed Juma, 22, who has three goals to his name so far.
The 2018-19 season is considered as exceptional for both sides. After a 26-year absence, Sharjah earned their sixth league title ever. On the other hand, Shabab Al Ahli won the UAE President’s Cup and the Arabian Gulf Cup.
The Kings sealed the title in the penultimate matchweek as they defeated Al Wahda 3-2 to get their sixth league title after being crowned champions in 1974, 1987, 1989, 1994 and 1996. They finished off the 2018/19 season with 59 points. Under the leadership of Arruabarrena, Shabab Al Ahli earned a second-place finish in the league after finishing off the first half of the season in fifth place.
They also completed the signing of Swiss midfielder Mariani and Argentine midfielder Cartabia. In addition, they also roped in Leonardo de Souza, who terminated his contract with Al Wahda by mutual consent, and former Bani Yas’ veteran defender Yousif Jabir.
Shabab Al Ahli hold the record for the most Arabian Gulf Super Cup wins as they captured the title four times (2008/09, 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2016/17). They are followed by Al Ain and Al Wahda who have three titles to their names each, while Emirates Club won it once in the 2010/11 season.
The last time Sharjah won the league was in 1995-1996, and it was their fifth
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