News » Exciting fare as Maradona and Fujairah line up in quarters

Exciting fare as Maradona and Fujairah line up in quarters

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Maradona2 jpgRank outsiders to take on mighty Al Ain as Al Jazira and Al Wahda set for President’s Cup battle


Argentine legend Diego Maradona and his Fujairah side are the rank outsiders as eight teams line up for the quarter-finals of the 2018 President’s Cup this week. But the club from the tiny emirate — the only one not featuring in Division One of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) this season, and under the management of former Argentina and Al Wasl boss Maradona — Fujairah are capable of causing an upset as they take on the mighty Al Ain in the early match on Thursday 12th April.


Maradona’s side have never reached the final of the President’s Cup, let alone winning it. In contrast, Al Ain — now on the cusp of taking a record 13th title in the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) — have won the Cup six times while ending runners-up on another seven occasions.


Emphatic 4-0 winners against Dibba in Round 20 of the AGL last week, Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic was more than focused when he insisted that his side is there to win everything this season. “We have the resources and I do not see why we cannot aspire to win every trophy that we compete for this year,” Mamic had told media at the post-match conference last Friday.


It is no vain boast from the 46-year-old Croatian coach, a defensive midfielder himself in his heyday. “I believe we have a perfect set of players on the pitch every time we go out for a match. We have a plan in mind and my players understand what needs to be done, and that is what is important for us as a team,” he added.


Another encounter worth keeping a look out for is the one involving two clubs from Abu Dhabi — Al Wahda and their neighbours Al Jazira — as the two battle in the first of the four quarter-finals in the early match on Wednesday. On paper, Al Jazira can boast of a better record having won the title thrice in comparison to the couple of times Al Wahda have lifted the Cup.


Another team foraying into the unknown will be Dibba as the AGL strugglers — now in 10th place trying to avoid the drop with 18 points — seek to make their maiden entry into the semi-finals against Al Wasl.


And in the final quarter-finals will be two of the most successful clubs in this competition — Shabab Al Ahli Dubai with a record 12 crowns and Sharjah with another eight titles to their name. “For us the President’s Cup is a top priority as that is the only trophy we can possibly hope for,” coach Mehdi Ali told media after last week’s goalless draw against Al Nasr.


“We needed some of our key players [like Makhete Diop] to get a run after missing several weeks due to injury. I think we are ready for another tough match against Sharjah. There are no second chances in this competition, so we need to avoid the mistakes we made against Al Nasr,” Ali cautioned.




April 11: Al Jazira v Al Wahda, 5.55pm; Al Wasl v Dibba, 8.55pm

April 12: Al Ain v Fujairah, 5.50pm; Shabab Al Ahli Dubai v Sharjah, 8.50pm




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