ABU DHABI // Al Jaziraneeded 37 years to win their first President’s Cup. They needed only one to win a second.
Ricardo Oliveira scored the decisive goal, the surprise substitute Ahmed Ali Mubarak added the clincher in the 90th minute, and the goalkeeper Ali Kasheif made several excellent saves for the winners before a crowd of 38,720 at Zayed Sports City last night.
Jazira routed Al Wahda 4-0 in the cup final a year ago, but this one was 1-1 until Oliveira’s goal in the 72nd minute.
“Tactically, it was the most difficult match for Al Jazira,” said Caio Junior, the winners’ coach. “Baniyas played a great match. They were a team who risked themselves the whole game by attacking with both wings at the same time. We had to use the counter-attack against them.”
He conceded it was a match that could have turned out differently.
“It was possible to lose the match,” he said. “When it was 1-1, Ali made a very excellent save and that was the crucial moment of the match, because right after that Ricardo scored a goal.”
Jazira have won three major domestic trophies, and all three have come in the past 12 months; they won a league and cup double a year ago.
Gabriel Calderon, the Baniyas coach, rued Jazira’s first goal. Lucas Neill, Jazira’s Australian defender, redirected into the goal a shot by teammate Subait Khater. Neill was alone in the penalty area, and it appeared he had pushed a Baniyas defender to the ground a moment before.
“I do not forgive the referee for the first goal,” the Argentine said. “The referee helped them there, and if they don’t score the first goal, it is a very different game.”
Caio Junior had no opinion on the Neill goal. “I have not seen the play,” he said. “I think Lucas was very good for us because of his experience. His influence in the defensive organisation is very important”, and he cited the difficulty of keeping in check Andre Senghor, the Baniyas striker.
Baniyas equalised when a corner was not effectively cleared by Jazira’s Abdullah Mousa, and it fell at the feet of Nawaf Mubarak, who had just come on as a substitute, about 30 yards from the goal. He took two touches to his left and fired in from 25 yards, scoring past a screened Kasheif.
The goal brought the stadium to life; it seemed clear that the loudest fans, and perhaps a majority, were hoping Baniyas could win the cup for the first time since 1992.
Jazira’s victory came as they are pursuing three trophies. They clinched a berth in the knockout phase of the Asian Champions League in a 1-1 draw with the Iran club Esteghlal last Wednesday, and on Friday they travel to Al Ain with a chance to close the gap on the league leaders.
“It’s a match that we have nothing to lose, at this moment in the league,” Caio Junior said. “Al Ain have much more to lose than Al Jazira. If we win the match there, we still have a chance to win the title.”
He was asked if the cup win would bring him a contract extension.
“You would have to ask the [club] president that,” he said, referring to Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, who congratulated him after the match.