x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Al Shabab now aiming for flying finale to the season

Marcos Paqueta, the Al Shabab coach, says his in-form side can expect success this season. Shabab are unbeaten in 12 matches in all competitions and remain in pursuit of four trophies.

Ceil's Al Shabab defeated Hassan Ameen's Al Nasr 3-2.
Ceil's Al Shabab defeated Hassan Ameen's Al Nasr 3-2.

DUBAI // Unbeaten in 12 matches and fighting on four fronts, Marcos Paqueta is confident his Al Shabab side can enjoy a strong finish to the season.

On Friday night the Dubai club extended their recent run of fine form, defeating Al Nasr 3-2 at Al Maktoum Stadium to swap Pro League places with their neighbours.

Shabab now sit fifth in the table, five points behind Al Jazira in second place, and are well-placed in Group C of the Etisalat Cup and through to the semi-finals of the President's Cup.

Meanwhile, last week's penalty shootout victory against Saba Qom, the Iranian side, guaranteed progression to the group stages of the Asian Champions League. Emboldened by performances during the past few months, Paqueta envisages an ultimately successful campaign.

"We look at every competition separately and plan for every match separately as well, but we are in a good position," the Brazilian said. "With the Etisalat Cup we are very close to reaching the semi-final, like we have done in the President's Cup.

"As far as the Pro League is concerned, our aim is to finish in the top four, and then we have to focus on the Asian Champions League. There was a lot of pressure on [last week's] match, but we managed to qualify and we have to do our best to go as far as possible in the Champions League.

"With all these tournaments and all this pressure on us there is the chance to rotate the squad. It gives as much chance to all the players to take part."

Shabab's latest period of prosperity has been defined by an attacking thrust. For example, they have scored 18 times in their past seven league matches, all of which have produced victories.

Paqueta believes his team have developed a ruthless efficiency going forward, aided by the prolific partnership of countrymen Ciel and Edgar Bruno. The Brazilian pair has 24 goals between them in all competitions this season.

With the strikeforce ably supplied by Luis Henrique and Dawood Ali, success at Nasr only reinforced Shabab's current optimism.

"We have a certain philosophy," Paqueta said. "We're trying to build a team that can play a lot of attacking football whether we're playing home or away.

"Looking at the [Nasr] match, we created a lot of chances, had a lot of possession and most of all had the majority of the control on the match. So our philosophy is working well."