Holders Sharjah set sights on President’s Cup title defence


Sharjah players attend a training session.

Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter

Sharjah will look to bounce back from the disappointment of the loss against Ittihad Kalba and successfully defend their President’s Cup title against Al Ain on Friday.

Sharjah, who are the defending champions, are coming into the match on the back of a loss against Kalba in their last league game. But Sharjah coach Cosmin Olaroiu downplayed their defeat and vowed to shift focus on the President’s Cup final.

Sharjah are currently sitting at the seventh spot in the league with 42 points, six places adrift of their opponents, who are second with 48 points and keeping it hot on the tails of leaders Shabab Al Ahli.

“The loss against Kalba was disappointing but we have left it behind. Every game is a new beginning. You have an opportunity to mend your mistake and make a fresh start. The loss was not intentional. But we tried to guard some players from the potential injury threats so that we can have a fully-fit team for the final.

“So the loss in our last game against a team, which is well behind us in the table was shocking but we have overcome it. Now our focus is on the final of the President’s Cup,” said Olariou.

He also considered the presence of his team for the second time in a row in the final of the President’s Cup as a positive sign, indicating that the match will be festive, and each team will try to please their fans, adding that it is a strong and difficult confrontation for the two teams.

“We are wary of Al Ain. They are a strong team. But we are confident of winning the match. There are few absentees for the match as our defenders Majed Hassan and Majed Rashid, will not be available.

“Their absence of these players makes it more difficult for us in the mid-field. We are trying different permutations and combinations to fill the void. We also have plan b and c to tackle any situation, and therefore we have to anticipate everything and devise more than one way to play,” he informed.

Caio Lucas of Sharjah expressed his happiness on participating in the final of the most expensive tournaments for the second time in a row, indicating that it will be a strong match against a strong team, stressing the need for all players to be ready and give their best in order to please the fans.

“All players aspire to participate in the big matches, especially the final matches. We must be at the highest levels of concentration to give our best in this meeting,” said Lucas.

Meanwhile, Al Ain coach Serhiy Rebrov explained that the players and fans know the importance of the President’s Cup final match against Sharjah, pointing out that his team was close to winning the title last year after reaching the final match.

“We know Sharjah very well. We played more than one match against them. We lost, won and tied. Now we have to turn these pages, focus on the next match and prepare for it well. Cosmin is a distinguished coach whom I admire and respect, and he is a coach with achievements,” said Rebrov.

The coach commented on the absence of the main goalkeeper, Khaled Issa, saying: “Al Ain is competing for three championships. We know that Khaled Issa is suspended and will not participate in the final, so we gave him the opportunity to participate in the Bani Yas match.

“The level of goalkeeper Muhammad Busanda did not change suddenly, when he participated in the Al Wasl match. He has been training hard and we have been trying to give him more time to play in the real matches. He was doing very well.”

Al Ain player Yahya Nader, who accompanied the coach at the press conference, said: “Our preparations for the final match went well. Al Ain always competes for all titles in every season. We went through a long and difficult season, and I think we deserve to reach the final match of the most expensive tournament.”

And about the absence of Issa, Yahya Nader explained: “Khaled before being a distinguished goalkeeper, is a leader inside the stadium, and his absence is certainly influential, but he came back and mentioned that Bosanda is also one of the distinguished talents in the team, as well as Sultan, and therefore there is no panic in the camp,” he added.


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