Abu Dhabi rivals meet in the quarter-finals at Baniyas stadium on Wednesday
Mbark Boussoufa and Al Jazira ready to avenge defeats to Al Wahda in President's Cup
Mbark Boussoufa has warned Al Wahda not to “write-off” Al Jazira when the Abu Dhabi rivals meet in the President’s Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Jazira face Arabian Gulf Cup winners Wahda at Baniyas stadium aiming to avenge two defeats – a 4-2 loss in the Arabian Gulf League 4-2 followed by a 2-0 reverse in the Super Cup.
“In football, every game is a new game,” Jazira playmaker Boussoufa said in a pre-match news conference on Tuesday.
“It’s true we lost to them twice but that doesn’t guarantee them another win. In fact, for us, it’s another chance to win over them.
“It’s going to be a tough game. Wahda has shown they have a good team this season. They have already won two trophies but this a quarter-final and if we want to go through we must win this game.”
The quarter-final has the added spice of being a city derby, which has only increased the stakes for Bousoufa and his Jazira teammates.
“Indeed, it’s a derby match but we know how important it’s for us to win,” the Moroccan said.
Runaway Arabian Gulf League champions last season, Jazira are down in seventh in the AGL table this campaign, 22 points behind leaders Al Ain.
However, they are through to the knockout stages of the Asian Champions League, and represented themselves well in the Fifa Club World Cup in December, reaching the semi-finals before losing narrowly to Real Madrid.
“Jazira won the league but this is a title any club will find hard to win back-to-back,” Boussoufa said. “We have done very well this year, we played well in the Fifa Club World Cup and have done well so far in the Asian Champions League.
“We are still in the President’s Cup for now. Jazira is always playing to win trophies. Only this year we are not in the race in the AGL and the Super Cup is only a one-off game.
“I just wanted to make this point because Jazira have been playing for trophies. I don’t see many teams winning the league twice in a row. It happens sometimes, but it’s not easy.”
Jazira manager Henk ten Cate said winning the President’s Cup has as much importance as winning the league because the winner receives a direct qualification to the Asian Champions League.
“Fortunately we have everyone for this game,” Ten Cate said. “We lost the two previous meetings with Wahda but no team likes to get beat by the same opponent three times.
“We need to be disciplined because Wahda is a very well organised team. They have some exceptional players and their midfield is the strongest. It’s going to be a tight game.
“In the Super Cup we made two individual mistakes and that cost us the game. The team was broken after the second goal.
“We are in a different situation now. We played in the Champions League and were successful in that. The win over Al Gharafa was big and it gave us a lot of confidence.”