x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Al Shabab reach Etisalat Cup final

The mercurial Ciel scored twice and set up a third goal as Al Shabab overwhelmed Al Jazira 4-0 at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium to advance to the final of the Etisalat Cup.

Adel Abdullah, centre, celebrates with his Al Shabab teammates after scoring in the 4-0 rout of Al Jazira.
Adel Abdullah, centre, celebrates with his Al Shabab teammates after scoring in the 4-0 rout of Al Jazira.

Al Jazira 0 Al Shabab 4

ABU DHABI // Score one for continuity. Al Shabab and Al Jazira met in the Etisalat Cup semi-finals last night, four days after each played in the Asian Champions League, but the Abu Dhabi club had changed managers in the interim and Paulo Bonamigo’s settled side overwhelmed the hosts 4-0 at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

Shabab, the cup holders, meet Al Ahli, who beat Al Wasl 1-0 in last night’s other semi-final, in an all-Dubai final on May 26.

Jazira finished with 10 men, but three of Shabab’s goals were set up while the sides were playing on equal terms.

“The energy of our players surprised Al Jazira in the beginning of the game,” Bonamigo said. “So as we discussed in our planning and strategy, when you get a chance against Jazira you have to score. Otherwise, you can be punished during the game. They are an excellent team.”

Jazira’s first exit from a competition this season was inglorious, and it came just three days after the league and President’s Cup winners of a year ago introduced the Brazilian Caio Junior as their coach.

He replaced Franky Vercauteren, the Belgian who had led Jazira to the semi-finals of the Etisalat Cup as well as the President’s Cup.

“In my opinion, the game ended after 40 minutes when it was 3-0 because of one corner and two penalties,” said Caio Junior, who termed the officiating “a disaster”, particularly for disallowing an apparent goal by Bare just before the break.

“We still have three championships to compete in, the President’s Cup, the league and the Asian Champions League,” he said. “Now, my job is to solve the problems in defence which everybody can see and its affects on the team itself.”

Bonamigo said he noticed Jazira attempting, without particular success, to patch their leaky back line by employing a fifth defender during a 4-2 Champions League victory over Nasaf Qarshi.

“We knew they would concentrate on stopping Ciel on the right, so we wanted to attack with Keiza on the left,” he said. “It worked.”

Shabab took control quickly.

Ali Kasheif was perhaps the best goalkeeper in the league last season, but he is still rounding into form after a long injury layoff.

He came off his line in an attempt to parry a corner from Ciel in the fourth minute. The move was late, and the ball found the head of the Chilean Carlos Villanueva, who nodded it into the empty goal.

Ciel penalties produced a three-goal lead.

The first came in the 29th minute when his cross from the right banged off the extended elbow of the midfielder Abdulraheem Jumaa, who was deputising for the suspended Ibrahim Diaky.

The second penalty came about 10 minutes later, when Kieza, Ciel’s Brazilian compatriot, again got behind the sluggish Jazira defence.

Juma Abdullah, the veteran central defender, dashing to catch up, got his legs tangled with Keiza’s as the two entered the box, and the referee Hamid Al Sheikh Hashmi pointed to the spot and then sent off Juma.

Adel Abdullah scored the final goal, in the 81st minute, with a free kick.

Down a man for the final hour, Jazira rarely tested Shabab’s goalkeeper Ismail Rabea, and the Dubai club were 90 minutes from becoming the first repeat champion in the competition.

Shabab played a Champions League game at home on Wednesday, and Bonamigo conceded that Jazira had a more strenuous recent schedule, given that they had played in Uzbekistan.

But he said they had “double motivation” to play well.

“They won a match in Asia, outside of the UAE, and wanted to continue that success, and the second one is they are playing for the new coach,” he said.

He was particularly pleased that his side kept Jazira off the score sheet.

“They scored six against us in our past two games against them, and a part of our strategy was to require the defenders to play like it was 0-0, because otherwise it wouldn’t succeed. It was a challenge for us to play Jazira without conceding goals.”



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