Al Ain boss Serhiy Rebrov cuts short Pro League Cup celebrations to focus on league

Garden City club travel to Al Dhafra on Saturday as they bid to maintain their seven-point lead

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Al Ain manager Serhiy Rebrov has said the team’s Pro League Cup celebrations were short and sweet as attention turns to the Adnoc Pro League.

The Garden City Club top the league table on 52 points, seven ahead of their closest challengers Al Wahda, with five matches left.

Having edged out Shabab Al Ahli in the Pro League Cup final 5-4 on penalties at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium on Wednesday, Al Ain travel to Al Dhafra on Saturday looking to take a step closer to a 14th UAE league crown.

“All the players are aware that we have no time for more celebrations,” Rebrov post-match.

“I have told my players we are back in training tomorrow [Thursday] for our league game against Al Dhafra. We need to put this success of this night behind us and focus on the league.

“We will double our efforts to defend the league lead which we have built from the beginning of the season.”

Rebrov praised Al Ain fans who accounted for more than half the official attendance of 13,557 at Wednesday's cup final in Abu Dhabi.

“I want to congratulate the Al Ain fans for winning the first title of the season as they certainly deserved this for their unwavering support to the team,” the Ukrainian said.

“It was a very tough game and I would like to think fans from both sides enjoyed the football dished out on the night.”

Shabab Al Ahli went into half time leading 1-0, courtesy Federico Cartabia on 28 minutes.

Al Ain bounced back with goals from Kodjo Laba and Caio Canedo, but Cartabia fired in his second nine minutes from time to force the game into a penalty shootout.

“We created a few chances that could have been converted into goals but these are not uncommon in football,” the Ukrainian added.

“Creating scoring opportunities in a final like this was very encouraging but we could have translated some of them into goals. However, we managed to score twice against a well-organised side and we won at the end, and that was very important.”

Shabab Al Ahli coach Mahdi Ali was gracious in defeat, saying his players can be proud of their performance.

“I’m not finding excuses but our players can leave with their heads high after this performance against a very good side,” he said.

“We led at half time and did well to score an equaliser towards the end to take the game into a penalty shootout.

“It was anybody’s game in a penalty shootout. Sometimes you need a bit of good fortune in such circumstances but we didn’t have it on the night.”

Updated: May 05, 2022, 8:43 AM
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