In the year of UAE’s golden jubilee, both sides would want to lift the coveted trophy…
Shabab Al Ahli will take on Al Nasr in the final of the Arabian Gulf Cup at the Sharjah Stadium on Friday.
Al Nasr are the defending champions if the Blues win on Friday, it will be their second successive title. On the other hand, Shabab Al Ahli will be looking to avenge their defeat from last season as they were beaten by the same opponent in the finale to deny them their fifth title.
Al Nasr had to drop a sweat or two to reach the finals as they did not have smooth sailing. They toiled hard to edge Fujairah 2-1 on aggregate, who are struggling to fight relegation in the Arabian Gulf League. They were held to a 1-1 draw at home and had to churn out a hard-fought 1-0 win away from home to progress to the semi-finals.
They were drawn against Ittihad Kalba in the last four. While the odds heavily favoured Al Nasr, they were stunned to a 2-1 defeat at their own backyard. They had to put up an impressive show away from home and after extra time they matched the scoreline of the first leg, before winning the match in penalties.
But coach Ramon Diaz will hope that the big guns will fire when it matters the most and earn them the title. Portuguese striker Toze has been in fine form and was involved in eight goals in the previous eight matches, scoring four goals and assisting the rest.
On the other hand, Shabab Al Ahli brushed aside every opponent in their road to the final. They beat Al Dhafra 4-1 on aggregate in the playoffs. Next, the demolished Khorfakkan 9-2 over both the legs. After winning 4-2 away from home, they pumped in five goals at home to march on to the semis.
Al Ahli continued their domination in the semi-finals as they routed Al Wasl 5-1 on aggregate to set up a summit clash with Al Nasr.
They have already won the Arabian Gulf Super Cup title against Sharjah and if they manage to win against Al Nasr it will be their second title of the season.
Igor Jesus has been finding the net regularly as he has scored four goals in five matches and if he gets going, Al Nasr’s defence will have a tough time containing him.