x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Cerezo looks for cup distraction for crisis-hit Shabab

Toninho Cerezo wants a return to winning ways for his struggling champions Al Shabab when they host Al Dhafra in the Etisalat Cup.

The Al Shabab manager Toninho Cerezo.
The Al Shabab manager Toninho Cerezo.

DUBAI // Toninho Cerezo wants a return to winning ways for his struggling champions Al Shabab when they host Al Dhafra on Friday night in the Etisalat Cup. Shabab are top of Group A, following a win over Sharjah and a draw against Al Wahda. That position is in contrast to their sorry situation in the Pro League and the turmoil among the club's management. Shabab have endured a boardroom drama since their last Pro League game on Dec 18, with Dr Ahmed Saeed bin Hazeem stepping down as the chairman of the club's board of directors and an interim committee being appointed to run the affairs.

The club also have severe financial problems and some of the staff have reportedly not been paid for more than two months. Cerezo is hoping the changes will improve the situation at the club and he wants to play his part in the progress. "We have got to return to the path of victories," said the Brazilian. "This break has given us the time to analyse our situation and work on our shortcomings. Hopefully, the result will become apparent soon."

There have been changes at Dhafra as well, with Eid Baroud taking over as coach from Mohammed Kwid, who returned home to Syria. This will be his first game in charge, and the Emirati is determined to make a good start. "We want to be fighting for the championship in every competition we take part," said Baroud. "So we are not going to take this match as a try-out for the league. We want to win every game."

In Group B, Al Shaab host Al Khaleej and while their fans will be seeking revenge for the 2-0 Pro League loss to their rivals from Khor Fakkan, coach Ayman al Ramadi will be using the game to blood youngsters. The Commandos are in a sorry state this season, sharing the bottom spot with Khaleej with just seven points from 10 rounds. Improving the team's position is the Egyptian's top priority, and not getting one over on their fellow strugglers.

"This game is not very important for us," said al Ramadi. "We are in a bad position in the league and improving our situation is my priority. So we will be giving new players a chance in this game and hope these cup matches will provide us with players who can help us in our league challenge." arizvi@thenational.ae