Al Jazira, Al Ahli make history as Super Cup played outside of the UAE for first time

Al Ahli and Al Jazira will feature in a ground-breaking event in UAE football history when they meet in the Arabian Gulf Super Cup tonight at the Air Force Stadium in Cairo.
Al Jazira manager Henk ten Cate will lead his side at the Arabian Gulf Super Cup in Cairo. Pawan Singh / The National
Al Jazira manager Henk ten Cate will lead his side at the Arabian Gulf Super Cup in Cairo. Pawan Singh / The National

• Tuesday, 9.15pm, AD Sports

Al Ahli and Al Jazira will feature in a ground-breaking event in UAE football history when they meet in the Arabian Gulf Super Cup tonight at the Air Force Stadium in Cairo.

The season’s showpiece curtain-raiser between the winners of the Arabian Gulf League and the President’s Cup, will be staged out of the country for the first time.

Ahli have won the title three times in the past four years but Henk ten Cate, the Jazira manager who led them to the President’s Cup having taken charge of the Abu Dhabi club midway through last season, is ready to upset his opposition.

“Our semi-final win in the President’s Cup against Ahli proved that form can sometimes go out of the window in these type of games, and winning is not always based on who gives the best performance,” the Dutchman said.

“We excelled against Ahli previously in such an encounter because we used a different approach, and we are fully prepared to repeat it by surprising our opponent tactically.

“We plan to play to our strengths and exploit their weaknesses, and I am optimistic at our chances of returning with the cup.”

Jazira missed out on the Super Cup in their past two appearances, losing to city rivals Al Wahda in 2012 and to Al Ain in the following year. Ahli are fresh from last week’s 5-1 thrashing of bitter rivals Al Ain in the Arabian Gulf Cup and start as obvious favourites.

“We are happy to be in Egypt for this game and I hope it will be an opportunity to reflect positively on UAE football,” Cosmin Olaroiu, the Ahli manager, said. “Jazira are a strong team with a lot of support, and the game will not be easy, but I believe we are prepared, and we have the determination and mentality to win.

“I also hope to see a good performance and a good spectacle on the pitch for the fans and the reputation of our game.

“Of course it is not ideal that we just got our players back from the international break, but the good thing about Ahli and much of the players in our team is that we have been together for three years now.”

apassela@thenational.ae

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Published: September 12, 2016 04:00 AM

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