Sharjah players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Arabian Gulf Super Cup.
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Sharjah coach Abdulaziz Anberi praised his team after they won their maiden Arabian Gulf Super Cup at the Al Maktuom Stadium on Saturday.
Sharjah defeated Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 4-3 on penalties after the match ended in a goalless draw in the regulation time.
“It was a tough match. Shabab Al Ahli are a good team and they are going to have a good season ahead.
“After the red card to Saleh Al Hasan, they started attacking as we were reduced to 10 men. But we are lucky to have got the result in our favour after penalties,” said Anberi.
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.
Sharjah had to battle for more than an hour with just 10 men to keep the attacking Shabab Al Ahli at bay during the regulation time before the match went into penalties.
Sharjah goalkeeper Adel Al Hosani turned out be an unlikely hero once again as he stamped his class with another clinical finish, stopping two penalties of Shabab Al Ahli in the decisive moments of the game.
Talking about their preparation and plans in case the match went into penalties, Anberi said: “We plan everything to detail. We were not expecting it to go into the penalties but after the red card to Hasan, we changed our strategy.
“All thanks to Almighty Allah for the fitness our players and we got the result in our favour in the end,” he stressed.
This was the second title for Sharjah in the last four months. Sharjah won the Arabian Gulf League title after 26 years and booked their place in the Super Cup while Shabab Al Ahli came into the match on the back of winning the President’s 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.
Super Cup, which is a traditional curtain-raiser to the season, is played between the winners of President’s Cup and AGL champions.
He also played down any injury scare for Sharjah captain Shaheen Abdullah.
“Shaheen’s injury is minor and there is nothing alarming about it. We hope he will be fit in time before the season gets under way in full swing,” informed the Emirati coach.
He also predicted a tough fight in the upcoming season.
“We are always trying to win the title and trophies but it is going to be a tough fight. All the teams have bolstered their squad for the new season.
“We had a bad start in the AGC but it was a preparation for us to give a chance to all the players and try out our bench strength and new arrivals.
“We played with all the front line players against Ajman and the result was once again in our favour. I expect a tough competition this time around as many teams will be better than last year.”
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.
Anberi became the first Emirati coach to guide his team to the AGL title but he downplayed his personal milestone with a humble smile.
“Credit goes to the team, management and the government for their support. For me it is a good personal achievement but Sharjah have always been a team,” he added.
Anberi has been one of the main pillars of Sharjah’s success as he turned around the fortune of the team since taking over.
Meanwhile, Shabab Al Ahli coach Rodolf Arruabarrena vowed to bounce back in the league after the loss.
“We have to prepare hard and bounce back in the league. And I am confident of my team putting up a better show as the new season transpires.
“We had better possession of the ball throughout the game but we failed to convert half-chances into goals.” he said.
Shabab Al Ahli played a firebrand football as they had 68 per cent possession but could not penetrate the tight defence of Sharjah.
“We were affected by the injury of Majed Al Hasan which hampered our performance. I was forced to replace him. But we will have a better team in the league,” he added.
He also ruled out any tension between the players of both the teams. This was the third time in a row that Sharjah defeated Shabab Al Ahli, having beaten them twice in the league last season.
“No there was no tension. There were little tussle and skirmishes on the field and that is the part and parcel of the game,” concluded Arruabarrena, who turned around the fortunes of the team by guiding them to a second-place finish in the league.
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.
Al Jazira defeated Hatta 2-0 while Shabab Al Ahli trounced Al Wahda 4-0 in matchweek 8 of the Arabian Gulf League on Wednesday. Earlier, Bani Yas holds Sharjah
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