x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Cerezo's eyes on the final

The President's Cup final is still a long way away but the prestigious clash will cast a big shadow over today's Pro League game between the two finalists, Al Shabab and Al Ain.

DUBAI // The President's Cup final is still a long way away, scheduled for April 22, but the prestigious clash will cast a big shadow over today's Pro League game between the two finalists, Al Shabab and Al Ain. "This is a dress rehearsal for the big day," said the Shabab team manager Obaid al Hubaitha. "I'm sure both the coaches will be busy taking notes, trying to find weak links. This game will give the coaches an indication of what to expect in the final."

The importance of the match in the Pro League itself, however, cannot be underestimated with Ain battling to stay in touching distance of Jazira and Ahli, and defending champions Shabab hoping to improve their position of sixth. The Shabab coach, Toninho Cerezo, said: "The result is very important for us and it is the same for Al Ain. They cannot afford to lose matches if their target is the championship. We will have to play at 200 per cent of our abilities. We have to double our efforts and concentration."

Most of entertainment should come from the Chilean magician Jorge Valdivia, who missed the last game against due to an injury. Ain struggled to beat Al Khaleej in his absence, but Cerezo hopes Valdivia will take the field today evening. "It is better if Valdivia plays because he is a spectacular player," said the Brazilian. "His presence will be absolutely great for the fans and will enrich the match. So I hope he plays."

In the other games today, Al Wasl will travel to Khaleej, hoping to cement their position behind the top three. Ajman, who were in fourth before the winter break, will be desperate to put a stop their three-game losing streak when they host Sharjah. @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae Log on and read about how Toninho Cerezo has dismissed rumours linking him with Qatar's Brazilian-born striker Emerson