The Arabian Gulf Cup action returns once again, as three exciting matches are scheduled for Thursday in the second leg of the playoff round.
Bani Yas are scheduled take on Hatta and Ajman are set to face Fujairah both at 6pm, while the last game of the day will see Al Jazira host Ittihad Kalba at 9pm.
Bani Yas already have one foot in the quarters after their 2-0 win away from home over Hatta in the first leg, thanks to first half goals from Joao Pedro and Mohamed Al Hammadi.
Hatta’s recent league performances raises questions over their ability to overturn the deficit in the return leg, which is set to kick off at 6pm, as they sit at the bottom of the table after falling to four defeats and one draw. Meanwhile, hosts Bani Yas aren’t in their best form in the current period. After their impressive start to the league season, they failed to get a win in their past two league matches, losing 3-1 to Al Jazira and drawing 0-0 with Ajman.
Hatta lost all their previous three matches in the qualifying rounds of the Arabian Gulf Cup, while Bani Yas emerged victorious in two out of four matches in the same round.
Hatta coach Christos Kontis believes his team need an early goal against Bani Yas to keep their hopes of advancing to the quarter final alive. “We need to have confidence and I hope we put in a strong performance and get a positive result,” he explained. “I hope this game is a step in the right direction,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bani Yas coach Daniel Isăilă praised Hatta, saying they are a “very good team”. “They play good football and have very good players within their ranks. They also create a lot of dangerous chances,” he added. He explained that Bani Yas need to be fully focused on the game and that they will be targeting a win to seal their qualification to the next round.
Fujairah go into the second leg at Rashid bin Saeed Stadium with a slight advantage thanks to Waleed Al Yamahi’s own goal. However, both teams haven’t been performing well in the league so far, as Ajman have two points and Fujairah claimed one point only after five matchweeks.
Ajman failed to earn a win in their past 11 matches in the Arabian Gulf Cup (4 draws – 7 defeats). Egyptian coach Ayman Al Ramady expects a tough task for his side against Fujairah. “We have a clear goal, which is qualifying to the next round. We will deal with all the problems facing us, including absences due to injuries,” he added.
On the other side, Fujairah coach Goran Tufegdžić said he looks to earn another win over Ajman, adding that all games are important for them regardless of the competition. “We prepared for a penalty shootout in case the game went into penalties,” he added.
The last match of the day will see Al Jazira welcome Kalba at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, as the Pride of Abu Dhabi will be looking to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg, which saw Peniel Mlapa net a brace and Milos Kosanovic net Al Jazira’s sole goal.
Al Jazira’s performance in the league has been inconsistent as they drew their first two games, won their second two, and lost to Sharjah in matchweek 5. They sit two points above Kalba who so far fell to three defeats and earned two wins.
Ittihad Kalba earned three wins over Al Jazira in the Arabian Gulf Cup, Al Jazira were victorious twice, while two games ended in draw.
Al Jazira coach Marcel Keizer sees the Arabian Gulf Cup as a chance for the young players to prove themselves. “It’ll be difficult to win the Arabian Gulf Cup this season as seven players will be called up to the UAE national team,” he explained.
“We won against Kalba in the league and they defeated us in the cup. We both know each other well by now, and we look to win the third game and qualify to the next round,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kalba coach Jorge da Silva said that his team failed to prepare well for the game due to the tight schedule. “We know we’ll be facing a tough opponent. We have a slight advantage thanks to our win in the first leg,” he added.