Sharjah players attend a training session ahead of their AGL match against Fujairah. Courtesy: Twitter
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Al Wahda and Hatta will set the ball rolling before Sharjah begin their title defence against Fujairah in a late match as the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) gets under way on Friday.
Due to pandemic, AGL season was suspended with seven rounds to go. In the wake of suspension none of the teams were promoted or relegated. Nor any team was crowned champions. Sharjah, who won the title in the previous season, remain de facto champions.
Sharjah coach Abdul Aziz Anbari is looking to start the season on a winning note.
“It is a new season in which we look forward to a perfect start and preserving the team’s position by being among the leading teams and competing strongly for all titles,” said Anbari.
“Fujairah performed well in their first match of the Arabian Gulf Cup (AGC). And as a team, we always respect our opponents. We should stick to our roles and be mentally present throughout the match to reach our goal of starting the season on a winning note.”
Fujairah defeated Ajman 1-0 in their first match of the Arabian Gulf Cup, that got underway last week. Anbari expressed his delight on the return of Brazilian striker Wilton Suarez in the fold.
“Wilton has been one of the most important cog in our wheel and his return to the Kings’ ranks is a positive thing for us. He shared a perfect harmony and excellent rapport with the rest of the players during his participation in the Asian Champions Leagues (ACL) matches,” added the coach.
Sharjah player Shaheen Abdul Rahman said: “We enter the match as champions and look forward to a strong start that will be an incentive for us to continue the journey towards preserving the title.
“The new players, who have been roped in increased the intensity of competition between the players to find a place in the starting XI.
“This is a healthy competition if two or more players are fighting for one spot. This is in the interest of the team, as everyone strives hard and does his best.
“Players have to be ready and wait for the coach’s signal to participate whenever required to provide support to the team and compensate for anyone’s absence,” he added.
Commenting on how enriching was their experience at the recently concluded ACL, he said: “Participation in the ACL was a great learning curve for us. We learned many things in terms of the harmony, experience, physical and technical readiness.
“This will have a positive impact on our performances as players in the upcoming matches. And soon we will return to continental competitions more stronger and resolute,” he concluded.
Meanwhile Hatta will look to bounce back after their defeat against Bani Yas in their opening match of the season in Arabian Gulf Cup.
Hatta’s Greek coach Christos Countis expressed his happiness at the return of the AGL and to start the campaign with match against a team like Al Wahda.
He said: “The team is waiting for the league with passion, despite of a loss against Bani Yas in the AGC match.”
Countis stressed that his team will look to return with a victory or at least draw in their first away match against Al Wahda.
“Facing a big team such as Al Wahda is a positive thing. We can have many positives from such matches. The pressures will not be on Hatta only, but on both teams. We have a strategy for the match. We have been looking to improve since last season. We will continue to strengthening the squad.”
Commenting on the new signing striker Mawabi Musenda, who joined the team recently, Countis said: “He is not fully prepared, but with training he continues to improve and rise to the required level. He may need about three matches to develop harmony with the players and adapt himself to the environment of the league. There are no absentees from the team due to any injury.”
He also said: “Everyone was eagerly waiting for the start of the league, which was suspended for a long time due to coronavirus.
“It is not going to be an easy start to the season because all the teams have been away from the training and not played pre-season friendlies. I wish success to all the clubs in the league,” he concluded.
In the other matches of the day, Al Dhafra will face Ajman while Al Wasl meet Bani Yas.
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