Arabian Gulf Cup gives league outsiders a shot at silverware

The Arabian Gulf Cup has given four teams with only slim league title ambitions a realistic chance of a trophy as the tournament enters the semi-final stage on Friday night.

The Arabian Gulf Cup has given four teams with only slim league title ambitions a realistic chance of a trophy as the tournament enters the semi-final stage on Friday.

Sharjah, the Group A winners, are at home to Al Shabab in the opening semi-final at 5.05pm while Al Nasr host Baniyas at 8pm at the Al Maktoum stadium in Dubai.

Luis Garcia, the Baniyas coach, said his team are ready for the challenge of a tough away trip.

“In this type of game the team that is able to score first will have the edge, so we will try to hit Al Nasr with an early goal,” said the Spaniard.

“They are good at controlling play, so we will need to close the gaps and put pressure on them.

“If the game were to go to a penalty shootout, we are ready for that and have worked on all possible scenarios in training.”

Amer Abdulrahman and Haboush Saleh who are on national duty at the Asian Games in Australia will be missing for Baniyas but Garcia is confident of their chances without them.

“We have played all our cup games without them so it’s not an issue for us, although we would like to have all players available,” he said.

“I hope we can give the fans something to cheer about. They deserve it and I don’t need to call on them to support the team because they have always been behind us.”

Meanwhile, Manuel Cajuda returns to the Arabian Gulf League as the veteran Portuguese takes over at Ajman from the Tunisian Fetthi Al Jabal for the second half of the season.

Cajuda was previously in charge of Sharjah from 2009 to 2011. He has more than 30 years experience as a manager, including spells at the Portuguese club Braga, Zamalek of Egypt, and his past two jobs at China’s Chongqing and Tianjin Songjiang.

Ajman are second last in the Arabian Gulf League table on nine points, five ahead of bottom team Kalba.

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