x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

GCC final second leg: Baniyas put title over Pro League placing as priority

Baniyas coach is not counting on away goal advantage having rested players in the league so team can focus on 'a big effort'.

Salem Al Orafi has been been with Baniyas as player and coach for many years. Courtesy Mohammad Rafeek / Baniyas
Salem Al Orafi has been been with Baniyas as player and coach for many years. Courtesy Mohammad Rafeek / Baniyas

ABU DHABI // Baniyas are in pole position to win only the second major trophy in their history as they face Qatari side Al Khor tonight in the second leg of the final of the Gulf Clubs Championship.

Baniyas scored a vital away goal as they drew 1-1 in Qatar last week and have a chance to add to their 1992 President's Cup win.

Andre Senghor struck an equaliser in the second half to wipe out an early goal from Brazilian Bruno Mineiro in the 1-1 draw at the Al Khawr stadium six days ago.

On their return, coach Salem Al Orafi rested all his key players in the 3-1 loss to Al Jazira in the Pro League on Monday, a game in which Baniyas were left with nine players after both Thamer Mohammed and Amer Abdulrahman were sent off for two bookable offences.

The defeat saw them slip to fourth place behind Jazira in the league table, but the Emirati coach insisted the opportunity of winning a trophy far outweighed being defeated by Jazira.

"It really doesn't matter if we finish third or fourth in the league but it is worth taking that chance because here we have a great opportunity to win a trophy," Al Orafi said.

"The second leg of the final has been our priority after the 1-1 away draw against Al Khor. We rested all our key players in the last league game against Jazira with this game in mind.

"It is true we have an away goal advantage but that doesn't guarantee us the title. However, we will go in to this home game with a winning mindset."

Al Orafi will have a full squad at his disposal including the defender Thamer and midfielder Abdulrahman as the bans for their respective dismissals against Jazira do not apply to tonight's game.

"The players are upbeat of after the rest," Al Orafi said. "They had enough time to recover, prepare and get their focus on this game. I would like to expect a big effort from them."

The Emirati was captain of the Baniyas side in 1992, when they beat Al Nasr 2-1 after extra time.

"Apart from being runner up behind Jazira in the league in 2011 and losing to them in the President's Cup final, Baniyas have never won a final since 1992, so we are all very excited and looking forward to win this game," he said.

apassela@thenational.ae

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