DUBAI // Sultan Bargash, making only his fourth appearance for the first team this season, scored a hat-trick for Al Jazira as the Abu Dhabi club routed Dubai 4-0 and secured a spot in the Etisalat Cup semi-finals.
Jazira also have reached the final four of the President's Cup, and are third in the league as they continue to chase trophies in multiple competitions.
"We are in our second semi-finals, which means we are still in the running for titles, which is very important," said Franky Vercauteren, the Jazira coach. "We are still sure of winning something and it very important we do that in every competition we take part in. So this is an important victory and I am happy with it."
He said it was vital to clinch an Etisalat Cup semi-final berth early, with two rounds yet to play.
"Now we can control round nine and 10 because we have reached our target," he said. "We have been missing a lot of players, but I believe today we had a good squad, some good individual performances from some players. So I can only be happy.
Vercauteren was impressed with the performance of Bargash, and the Belgian believes the 23-year-old midfielder will be pushing for a starting place in the first team.
"I have been saying from the beginning that the selection of the squad has to be as good as possible because we are playing at a lot of levels," Vercauteren said.
"You need to rotate the players. Having somebody like him behind gives a lot of confidence. That's very important. He showed today that we have to be aware about him, but we already know this. Sometimes, due to circumstances, some people are able to show their potential better than others."
A few more of the Jazira reserve players will get their chances in round nine and 10 of the Etisalat Cup as Vercauteren tries to keep his regulars fresh for the final stretch of the Pro League, where they are third behind Al Ain and Al Nasr, and the Asian Champions League, which begins in March.
"Of course, I am not only seeing it as a trial because even those games we will try to win," Vercauteren said. "That always is the motivation. However, it will give me an opportunity to prepare the players for the other competitions.
"It will be a good opportunity for the reserve players, to prepare them in case we need them in other competitions.
"It is interesting we can let some players rest and let others play. It is a good situation to be in. We don't have to push ourselves, or be stressed."
Meanwhile, Al Ain also had a comfortable night, beating Emirates 3-0 at home to move second in Group A.
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