Pro League: Al Shabab off to fast start to busy week with win over Dibba

With Asian Champions League and President's Cup matches on the horizion for Al Shabab, Ciel and Mahmood Qassim each score for the hosts who send Dibba one step closer to relegation, writes Paul Radley.

Al Shabab  will compete in an Asian Champions League match and a President's Cup semi-final this week but got going Saturday night with a 2-0 win over Dibba. Courtesy photo
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Al Shabab 2 Dibba 0

Al Shabab Qassim 65', Ciel 90'

Man of the match Nasser Masood (Al Shabab)

DUBAI // When Ciel, the goal-scoring Brazilian, took off his shirt and handed it to one of the few supporters who had bothered to turn up for this Pro League match on Saturday night, Al Shabab's kit man must have been tearing his hair out.

Given the way the fixtures are piling up on the side from Al Mamzar, there will barely be time to replace it before Shabab face their next test.

Their star man might have to go topless for the encounter with Paktakhor in Uzbekistan in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday. They then face Al Wahda in the President's Cup semi-final on Saturday.

Marcos Paqueta, the Shabab coach, has his hands full attempting to plot success on three fronts this week.

At least they managed a triumphant start to what could prove to be a defining eights days in their season.

He should spare a thought for their opposition here, as Shabab's comfortable win, allied to Al Shaab's shock victory against Al Ain on Saturday night, all but consigned Dibba Al Fujairah to relegation.

"We knew that Dibba were chasing important points and we tried to use this to our advantage," Paqueta said.

"Because of this rush, we were able to find lots of spaces in the second half, we created a lot of chances and were able to take two of them.

"Even though we know it is very difficult for us [to qualify for a return to the Champions League via the Pro League] we are trying our best."

Shabab went ahead when Mahmood Qassim blazed a shot past Mohammed Al Rowaihy, the Dibba goalkeeper.

In the 82nd minute, Ciel contrived to botch a golden chance to settle the win for the home side when his limp pass failed to reach Edgar Bruno when just the keeper stood between them and a second goal.

However, Ciel atoned for his error in the last minute.

So pinpoint was the cross by Masood, the resourceful Shabab midfielder, it was impossible for the Brazilian forward to miss and he duly helped himself to his ninth goal of the Pro League campaign.

Dibba might have been shocked to hear the news from the match happening simultaneously to this one, namely that Shaab had won against the newly crowned champions Al Ain, but they could hardly cry conspiracy.

Al Ain have had an odd blind spot against relegation-threatened sides this year. Dibba themselves had, after all, handed the league leaders one of their three losses to date in this campaign.

The side from Fujairah have proved the thorn in the side of many leading clubs since Abdullah Misfir assumed the managerial reins at the halfway stage of this term.

However, failure to repeat the trick against Shabab here might have all but rubber-stamped their demotion to UAE football's second tier. They now trail Shaab by seven points with just three games remaining.

"We suffered because we were not effective in attack in this game," Misfir, the Emirati coach, said.

"Maybe the situation we are in affected the players. I don't know if we will be playing in the top division or the second division next year but I have tried my best to solve some of the problems with the team."

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