x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Ciel hopes to be the hero for Al Shabab again

The Brazilian wants to play a key role in the club retaining their Etisalat Cup crown against Al Ahli tonight.

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Feb 13 : Ciel ( no 99 left ) of Al Shabab Club playing in the Etisalat Pro - League football match against Al Ahli Club at Rashid Stadium in Dubai. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For Sports. Story by Ahmed
DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Feb 13 : Ciel ( no 99 left ) of Al Shabab Club playing in the Etisalat Pro - League football match against Al Ahli Club at Rashid Stadium in Dubai. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For Sports. Story by Ahmed

DUBAI // Ciel, the star of Al Shabab's Etisalat Cup triumph last year, is hoping he can help his team retain the trophy with a repeat of that performance against Al Ahli tonight.

The bustling Brazilian winger scored twice in last year's final when Shabab defeated Al Ain 3-2.

His first goal levelled the scores at 1-1 in the 70th minute after Shabab had conceded in the 19th minute and his second came in the third minute of added time, seconds after Al Ain had made it 2-2.

"That was one of the most memorable matches for me," said Ciel, who has just agreed a two-year contract extension at Shabab. "It is one of the best matches I have ever played, but I hope I can play at the same level or do even better.

"We have a lot of respect for Ahli, but if we can play at our best, I am confident we will have a good game and a good result. We hope will be the lucky again and leave the pitch with a smile and the trophy."

However, unlike last year's final, Ciel will not have the reassuring presence of Carlos Villanueva alongside him as the Chilean playmaker has been ruled out for the season with an injury.

Azizbek Haydarov, the Uzbek midfield marshal, has also been struggling with injury of late and is doubtful to start the match, but Paulo Bonamigo, the Shabab coach, has given a vote of confidence to his squad.

"The players who come in, their motivation will be really high," Bonamigo said. "When we played against Al Ahli in the GCC Clubs' Championship final, it was a difficult moment for us as well, but we overcame all the difficulties and, with a good performance, we were able to beat them.

"So in a final, there are no favourites. We have to respect each other. Both teams have equal chances."

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