x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Double still in sight for Al Jazira

Abel Braga, the coach, is confident of achieving their goals for the season — the Pro League title and the President's Cup.

Al Jazira's Ricardo Oliveira, left, and Bare were in attacking mood yesterday.
Al Jazira's Ricardo Oliveira, left, and Bare were in attacking mood yesterday.

ABU DHABI // In the 37 years since they were founded, Al Jazira have never won the Pro League or the President's Cup. Now, they are in position to win both in the same season and become only the second club since 1990 to register a double of the UAE's most prominent trophies.

The Abu Dhabi side are unbeaten in the Pro League and lead by seven points with nine games to play, and they qualified for the final of the President's Cup last night by crushing Al Shabab 4-1 before a crowd of 6,530 at Zayed Sports City Stadium.

Jazira's Brazilian attack force of Ricardo Oliveira and Bare accounted for three goals, two by Oliveira, the most expensive signing in UAE history, at Dh73 million. Jumaa Abdullah scored in the 87th minute of the comprehensive victory that put Jazira in the President's Cup final for only the second time.

"I'm very happy and glad with the result," said Abel Braga, Jazira's coach. "We are close to achieving our goals this season. There is work still to do, but we have a good chance to win two trophies."

Jazira showed no lingering effects from the 5-1 beating they took at the hands of the Iranian side Sepahan in the Asian Champions League last week.

"I'm sorry to say that some people thought Al Jazira were losing their form from the start of the season, after the defeat against Sepahan," Braga said. "And it's true the mentalities of the players were not good after that result. I think the players trusted their coaches who worked with them very hard to do better and to have a better result.

"I spoke to the players and told them, yes, you lost your last match but you have the chance now to answer and show the people you can win."

Playing with a patchwork back four due to two suspensions, Jazira needed all the skill of the goalkeeper Ali Kasheif to fend off a pair of excellent chances for Shabab and then responded with two goals in the first quarter of an hour to take control of the match.

Bare scored from 35 yards in the ninth minute as Shabab's defence suffered a lapse in attention. He had four Shabab players around him, but none attempted to tackle the burly forward, who turned and sent a sharp shot that went wide of Salem Abdullah, the Shabab goalkeeper who was off his line, and into the goal.

Jazira's second goal was a bolt from the blue. A Shabab corner was headed out of the box by Bare and picked up on the run by Subait Khater, who paused just past midfield and sent it on to Oliveira as he charged forward. The agile Brazilian bore down on Abdullah and chipped the ball just over the keeper's head and into the goal from the edge of the box.

"Everyone knows that Jazira are always attacking but today we used our counter-attack and it helped us win," Braga said. "We have achieved our goal to be in the President's Cup final."

Jociel de Ferreira, the Brazilian forward and easily Shabab's most effective player, scored on a penalty in the 87th minute.