The Arabian Gulf Cup action resumes on Friday as Shabab Al Ahli face Al Dhafra, Al Ain host Khorfakkan and Al Wahda clash with Al Wasl in the first leg of the playoff round, which’s held under the slogan “we commit until we succeed”.
The first match will see Shabab Al Ahli play with Al Dhafra at Rashid Stadium.
Last year’s runners-up Shabab Al Ahli will be without six international players who were recently called up by their national teams, in addition to the absence of Ahmed Khalil and Majed Hassan for injury. However, Spanish coach Gerard Zaragoza said: “we have two teams and we’ve no problem with the absences.”
He added, “the team prepared well and benefited from playing four strong games in the AFC Champions League, which is better than playing friendly games.”
On the other hand, Al Dhafra will be led by interim coach Mohammed Quaid, as Serbian coach Aleksandar Veselinović will take over the team after the Shabab Al Ahli clash.
Quaid confirmed the team’s readiness for the new season and that he trusts the team’s abilities to achieve good results and meet the fans’ expectations. He added, “we’ll face a strong team who just took part in the AFC Champions League, but we we will try to achieve victory.”
At the same time, Al Ain will play with Khorfakkan at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. The Boss will be without a number of international players who were called up by their national teams. They’ll also miss the services of Kodjo Laba for injury. “It’s a tough situation, but we have to deal with it and focus on winning the game,” the Boss coach Pedro Emanuel added.
Meanwhile, Khorfakkan play the game under the leadership of newly appointed coach Caio Zanardi, who expects a tough encounter at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, saying: “Al Ain are a big team and have an excellent group of players, therefore, I expect it’ll be a tough game.”
“Our players need to be fully focused, as the new format of the Arabian Gulf Cup makes the competition harder,” he added.
The final match of the first leg will see Al Wahda face Al Wasl at Al Nahyan Stadium at 9 pm.
This will mark the first competitive game for Al Wahda under the leadership of Serbian coach Vuk Rašović. “We’re looking to put in a good performance in the first match of the season. I think we’re in a good position, but we still need more time to prepare better and decide on the best formation.”
Al Wasl coach Laurențiu Reghecampf said he’s not worried about the team’s performance in the friendly games, which saw them win two and lose four, explaining: “I’m sure the team will do their best in the competitive games. The friendlies are a chance to explore the team’s technical and physical condition.”
The first leg kicked off on Thursday and saw Bani Yas beat Hatta 2-0, Ittihad Kalba overcome Al Jazira 2-1 and Ajman defeat Ajman 1-0. The second leg of the playoff round is scheduled to be held on November 12 and 13.