Manuel Jimenez faces toughest test as Al Wahda meet Sharjah in President's Cup final

Cozmin Olaroiu’s side arrive on the back of a first defeat but are confident of bouncing back

Manuel Jimenez knows he will face a tough test against Sharjah. – Al Wahda
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Manager Manuel Jimenez admits he will face a tough task to maintain his 100 per cent record when Al Wahda meet Sharjah in the President's Cup Final on Friday.

The Spaniard has overseen victories in the Adnoc Pro League and another in the ADIB Cup since taking charge two weeks ago but understands Sharjah in the rescheduled 2021 final at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium will be on another level.

“It’s a final and altogether a different scenario from what we have been through,” Jimenez said at the pre-match conference.

“We want to be at our best for this big occasion. What matter most in this game is the end result and I wish my players will carry out their task to the best of their abilities on the pitch.”

Under Jimenez, Wahda defeated Al Nasr 4-0 and Al Ain 3-2 in the league, and overcame Kalba 2-0 in the opening round of this season's cup.

“We want to win this final for all to remember, and from my side it will be a gift I would like to dedicate for the fans on the return to the club,” Sebastian Tagliabue, who returned to the Abu Dhabi Club after a two-year spell at Nasr, said.

“Sharjah has improved significantly in recent years and will be a strong opponent, but our team has also improved tremendously as the results of the last three games suggest.

“We have also prepared well and want to be fully focused throughout the 90 minutes to win the game in the regulation time. If it goes into a penalty shoot-out, then it will be the team that has the best fortune on the night.”

Sharjah arrive having suffered their first defeat in the league. They went down to Al Wasl 1-0 at home and before that were held to a 3-3 draw by Al Jazira.

Cosmin Olaroiu’s side remain on top of the table and the Romanian manager said: “We have worked on the recovery and preparation of the players after last week’s game, although preparing for a final requires more time.

“I’m not finding excuses but face the situation and adapt quickly to reach the best possible preparedness. We have the full squad at our disposal but the concern is the fatigue of some players.”

Caio Lucas is confident playing in the final will bring new energy to the players. “This is a game the winner takes all and I hope that will be us,” the Brazilian forward said.

“It’s a final and it’s the best two teams, meaning a tough game for both teams. Wahda are a good side but we are ready to take them on and obviously want to take this prestigious title to our club.”

Updated: October 21, 2022, 5:00 AM
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