Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 February 2020

Shabab Al Ahli v Al Nasr: Small details to make a big difference in Arabian Gulf Cup final

Manager Rodolfo Arruabarrena in second attempt to win silverware this season after team lost to Sharjah in the Arabian Gulf Super Cup

Rodolfo Arruabarrena's Shabab Al Ahli side lost to the Arabian Gulf League champions Sharjah in the Arabian Gulf Super Cup on penalties. Pawan Singh / The National
Rodolfo Arruabarrena's Shabab Al Ahli side lost to the Arabian Gulf League champions Sharjah in the Arabian Gulf Super Cup on penalties. Pawan Singh / The National

Shabab Al Ahli manager Rodolfo Arruabarrena believes the team that does the “right things and carries out small details” will have the upper hand in the Arabian Gulf Cup final.

Arruabarrena’s team is bidding for a fifth Cup in eight years when they meet Al Nasr at the Al Wasl Club’s Zabeel stadium in Dubai on Friday evening. Shabab Al Ahli are the defending champions and also previously won the Cup in 2012, 2014 and 2017.

“It’s going to be a fast-paced game but it’s the team that does the right things and small details well that will have the better chance,” Arruabarrena said at the pre-match conference on Thursday.

“I hope it will be my team that does that. We have a good record in the Cup competition and hope we can take that momentum forward, even if it is a tough game.

“The two teams know each other well, having played against each other several times recently. I would like to see my players take the responsibility and do what’s best on the pitch to win this title.”

It is also Shabab Al Ahli’s second chance of winning silverware this season after narrowly losing to the Arabian Gulf League champions Sharjah in the Arabian Gulf Super Cup on penalties.

“It’s our second attempt to a win silverware and that’s not easy,” the Argentine said. “But we want to hold on to the Cup and we’ll do everything to achieve the result we want.”

Majed Naser, the Shabab Al Ahli goalkeeper, shared the same views as his manager, saying small details could make a large difference against Nasr.

“We have a strong squad that includes both experience and youth talent,” Naser said. “We have built this side to improve from the bottom of the Arabian Gulf League table to reach fourth. So we are hopeful.”

Nasr won the Cup in 2015 and their manager, Kronoslav Jurcic – who replaced Brazilian Caio Zanardi at the Al Maktoum stadium in October – is quietly confident of his first trophy.

“I can say this is another match,” the Croatian said. “This is a final and it needs special preparation but we made normal prep because I don’t want to make special for my players because we have a lot of young players.

“We play 11 against 11. So we’ll see how this game pans out for us. It’s a good moment for me and a good moment for the players and fans to play in a final. We want to make most of it.”

Jurcic will not be able to call upon experienced defender Mahmoud Khamis, who is on national service.

“Mahmoud is one of our best players during the last month so we will be missing him but we have an option for the left back,” he said.

“I can’t change too many things in the three months I have been here. We have some young players on duty with the Olympic team and we don’t have too many options to make big changes. But we will play best to our abilities.”

Updated: January 17, 2020 08:49 AM

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