x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Confusion still lingers over cup

Confusion and farce surround the start of the second season of professional football in the country with no "official" date yet set for the Super Cup, the curtain-raiser to the Pro League.

DUBAI // Confusion and farce surround the start of the second season of professional football in the country with no "official" date yet set for the Super Cup, the curtain-raiser to the Pro League. The game was originally planned for September 14 or 15, but was later fixed for September 22. Both the participating clubs - league champions Al Ahli and President's Cup winners Al Ain - then caomplained about playing on that day because of the Eid-al Fitr festival.

The date was changed on Sunday to September 17, but later reports suggested it would be September 23, which would be two days before the start of the Pro League. Now, Romy Gai, the Chief executive of UAE Football League, says they have not made a decision yet. "Officially, we don't have a date yet," said the Italian. "We are still deciding." Amid the confusion, the fact that the match will be played at a cricket stadium - Dubai Sports City - has taken a backseat.

Gai says they have been forced to choose the unlikely venue as no other neutral option was available. "We have no grounds in Abu Dhabi as work is going on at the stadiums. We could not play in Al Ain or Dubai, since one of the teams is from each city. "So the Dubai Sports City was the best alternative. We have seen them host some international cricket matches and the facilities are absolutely fantastic. I believe it is the perfect venue for the game. "

International cricket is expected to return to the stadium in November, with Pakistan "hosting" New Zealand for their one-day series. Tony Hemming, the stadium's head curator, dismissed fears the football game would damage the playing surface. "It is something we do regularly in Australia," he said. arizvi@thenational.ae