Manager Marcel Keizer dedicated Al Jazira’s first Super Cup success to all of the club, after his side triumphed on penalties against Shabab Al Ahli on Friday night.
The UAE champions displayed their mettle at Al Ain's Hazza bin Zayed Stadium to capture the trophy for the first time in five attempts, first levelling the scores at 1-1 two minutes from time before then coming through 5-3 in the shootout.
Shabab Al Ahli, last year’s winners, had taken the lead on 65 minutes through substitute Mohammed Juma Eid, before Abdullah Ramadan equalised at the death. However, Shabab Al Ahli midfielder Abdullah Al Naqbi missed his side’s fourth penalty, leaving Jazira left-back Abdullah Idrees to roll home the decisive spot-kick.
Speaking afterwards about what the victory meant to him personally, Keizer said: “That’s of course very nice. But I’m happier for Al Jazira that after five times in the final they win it. For me, it’s the first time here in the final, so also for me happy.
“But I’m happier for all the club, for the players, for everybody who works on this result. Very happy that we’re now off the 'zero' and now we have won it. So let’s continue.”
Jazira went into the match without a host of first-team regulars, including star striker Ali Mabkhout, forward Zayed Al Ameri, attacking midfielders Khalfan Mubarak and Oumar Traore, and defenders Milos Kosanovic and Salem Rashid.
Understandably, Keizer was full of praise for his young side.
“I hope everybody sees that we played without Ali, Khalfan, Zayed, Omar, Milos and Salem Rashid,” the Dutchman said. “This is six players who also fight for the championship last year and they were not here today. So we also did it for them. I was really happy with the performance of the guys.
“The young players came in, played a good game. We should have created more chances and scored more goals, but in the end we were happy with the 1-1 because it was already close.
“We know of course, in Ali Khaseif, we have a very good goalkeeper who also made three very important saves in the game. So I’m very happy for the team and for Al Jazira the club.”
Jazira will hope their win kicks off a successful busy period for the club, with Al Wasl to come in the Adnoc Pro League - Jazira sit fifth, level on points with third-placed Shabab Al Ahli - on Tuesday.
They then take on Al Wahda in the President’s Cup on January 15 before the players depart for the international break. After that, Jazira open the Fifa Club World Cup, on home soil, on February 3 against Tahiti’s AS Pirae.
On how the Super Cup crown could help boost confidence going into the Club World Cup, Keizer said: “I think we were already confident - the last five games we didn’t lose; we won three and draw two. So now six games we didn’t lose. So we have to continue.
“Now in three days Al Wasl is there and then three days later it’s Al Wahda. The team is very small, so we have to recover and then we will see. It’s a really tight schedule. But the players are fighting and this is a good sign.”
Meanwhile, Keizer remained coy on Mabkhout’s continued absence. The frontman, the UAE’s all-time leading goalscorer, has missed Jazira’s past six matches having not played competitively since the national team's exit from the Fifa Arab Cup at the quarter-final stage on December 10.
When asked to clarify Mabkhout’s current situation, Keizer replied: “That’s difficult to say. I can say only that he’s not available now for this game, and for next game maybe also not. And, of course, I understand that everybody wants to know because he’s a very good player, and I already say the best player there is. But I can only say now not available for this game.”