x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Dominant Sharjah into final four

The eight-time winners enter semi-finals of the President's Cup after scoring three goals to nothing.

Sharjah, in white, yesterday made amends for last season’s disappointment in the President’s Cup.
Sharjah, in white, yesterday made amends for last season’s disappointment in the President’s Cup.

No club have won the President's Cup more often than have Sharjah. Their eight victories in the domestic knockout competition are among the reasons that the tradition-steeped side still prefer to be referred to as "The King".

Recent results, however, have not been flattering to the club. Their last league title came in 1996, and their most recent President's Cup trophy was won in 2003.

A year ago they crashed out of the cup in the first round, losing in a shoot-out to the tiny First Division club Masafi, and two years ago they succumbed to Al Ahli in the second round.

This term, however, Sharjah have reached the final four. Saeed Al Kas scored an early goal and Marcelo Oliveira added one before the break and a second in the second half as Sharjah dismissed Kalba 3-0 last night in a match at Emirates Stadium in Ras Al Khaimah.

Sharjah dominated the match, particularly through the Iranian midfielder Iman Mobali, who was active and dangerous throughout.

At the other end of the field, the goalkeeper, Gassem Mohammed, was rarely tested, as Kalba's expatriate attacking duo of Gregory Dufrennes and Elias Kanu had little time or space to generate threats, though Mohammed did well to push a Kanu shot over the bar in the seventh minute.

Al Kas scored in the 14th minute when a free kick from Mobali was not cleanly handled by Kalba's goalkeeper, and the former UAE international tapped it in. Oliveira scored on a cross from Ali Al Saadi in the 43rd minute, and the Brazilian sealed the victory with a breakaway goal in the 59th minute.

Admittedly, Sharjah have had the easiest path in the President's Cup. They were one of three Pro League teams to get a First Division opponent in the last 16, when they dispatched Al Khaleej 2-1. And they were the only top-flight club to face a lower-division opponent in the quarter-finals this week.

The President's Cup successes have come as good news for a side who have struggled in the league, finding themselves in a relegation battle, with only eight points from 10 matches.