x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Al Jazira book their place in President's Cup final

The holders' superior stamina ultimately paid off as they beat Sharjah 4-1 after extra time to book their place in the April 23 final, where they will face Baniyas. Audio interview

Al Jazira teammates congratulate Ricardo Oliveira, centre. Mike Young / The National
Al Jazira teammates congratulate Ricardo Oliveira, centre. Mike Young / The National

AL AIN // Sultan Bargash scored two goals in extra time as Al Jazira avoided an upset by bottom-of-the-league Sharjah and advanced to the final of the President's Cup.

Sharjah had equalised Abdullah Mousa's opening strike with a goal by Edinho in the 55th minute, and for the next 45 minutes they stuck to Jazira like chewing gum on their boots.

"I was worried a lot about this match," said Caio Junior, Jazira's Brazilian coach. "Mentally, it was a big pressure on our players, the fear to not be in the final match."

Jazira five days earlier had made a statement in Asian football by defeating the Iran club Esteghlal in Tehran. Sharjah entered the match with a much smaller reputation, but they did not give up. Bargash's goals were set up by passes from Ali Mabkhout, who like Bargash was a second-half substitute.

"In extra time, one point that was very important was our fitness," Caio Junior said. "And another was Ali Mabhkout, who was very good in the extra time. Now we prepare ourselves to play in the final."

Abdulmajeed Al Nimr made his debut as the caretaker coach for Sharjah, and he paid tribute to his players. "It was a good effort by my team," the Emirati said. "I want to send a message to the players, thanking them for the good performance.

"We played a good match, but it is stamina, I think, that made the difference. I know my team doesn't have much stamina,."

Sharjah now return to a relegation battle. They are five points from safety.

"We have to forget this match and we have to focus on the league to avoid going to the second division," Al Nimr said.

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