Al Nasr and Fujairah players in action during their Arabian Gulf Cup match.
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
A late own goal by Fujairah’s Hamdan Albaroud handed Al Nasr a 1-0 win in the second leg of the Arabian Gulf Cup (AGC) quarter-final on Monday.
With an aggregate 2-1 victory, Al Nasr became the first team to seal a place in the last four of the tournament.
In the fiercely contested match, both the teams putting all their efforts to take a lead. But due to the tight defence they failed to break the deadlock.
The first real chance of the game fell to Al Nasr, as Ryan Mendes back-heel pass found Sebastián Tagliabué, but the 35-year-old forward headed the ball wide.
Al Nasr looked more dangerous throughout the first half, yet failed to find the back of the net as they headed into the break with scores tied at 0-0.
Fujairah had started fancying their chances of last four berth before Albaroud netted an own goal in the 84th minute. The Fujairah defender mistakenly converted Ryan Mendes effort into his side’s own net as the Blues went 1-0 up. Fujairah failed to equalize in the remaining minutes, as title holders Al Nasr sealed their spot in the semi-final.
Meanwhile, Tuesday promises two blockbuster quarter-finals with Sharjah taking on Al Wasl and Ittihad Kalba facing Shabab Al Ahli Dubai.
Sharjah will look to compensate the heartbreak of losing in the Arabian Gulf Super Cup final against Shabab Al Ahli three days back.
Sharjah coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari exuded confidence in his player despite playing in a tight schedule. The matches all over the world have been crammed into a jam-packed calendar to make up for the time loss due coronavirus.
“Despite the short time after the Super Cup match, we are preparing well and I hope that all the players are fully prepared for the game,” said Anbari.
“I am talking about especially the players whom we will give the opportunity to participate in the match,” he continued.
Anbari affirmed his confidence in all his players and their ability to come up with a match-winning performance without fear of not being ready for even one of them.
“Al Wasl play with great focus in this tournament. The first match was difficult for the two teams, and we expect this match to be even more difficult. But we will strive to achieve a positive result and qualify for the round of four,” concluded Anbari.
Sharjah player Mohammed Abdul Basit confirmed his team’s readiness for the match despite playing back-to back games in three days’ time.
“We are fully prepared and focused for the match. We expect a positive outcome in the meeting. After the loss in the previous game against Shabab Al Ahli in the final of the Super Cup, there is no room for complacency.
“We will go into the game with full preparation and field out best available line-up to come out with a positive result and book a berth in semis,” he added.
Meanwhile, Shabab Al Ahli coach Mahdi Ali predicted a tough game against Khorfakkan.
“Khorfakkan are a good team. And their performance has improved remarkably in the recent times and they have procured good results.
“For us, the match is important and it is on our home ground. Such games need a lot of seriousness and fire in the belly to achieve the desired result,” said Ali.
“During the last two days, we celebrated the Super Cup win over Sharjah. But now we have moved on and our focus is on the next game against Khorfakkan,” he added.
The first leg of the Arabian Gulf Cup (AGC) quarter-finals will kick off on Thursday with Shabab Al Ahli taking on Khorfakkan and defending champions Al Nasr meeting Fujairah. Khorfakkan will host Shabab Al Ahli at the Saqr Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi
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