x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

President's Cup the focus now for Baniyas coach

Gabriel Calderon revealed after the 1-0 loss to Al Shabab he would rest some of his key players for their next Pro League match to save them for the cup semi-final against Al Wahda.

Baniyas, in white, lost 1-0 to Al Shabab. Courtesy Al Ittihad
Baniyas, in white, lost 1-0 to Al Shabab. Courtesy Al Ittihad

SHAMKHA // Baniyas are prepared to sacrifice potential league points in the hope of lifting the President's Cup following last night's 1-0 defeat by Al Shabab.

Gabriel Calderon, the coach, revealed after the game that he would rest some of his key players for their next Pro League match, against the leaders Al Ain on Friday, to save them for the cup semi-final against Al Wahda the following week.

"We will not take any risk on those players who have two yellow cards when we play Al Ain as we have a more important semi-final match in the President's Cup," the Argentine said.

"That doesn't mean we will not try to win against Al Ain, but at the same time we must look at the opportunity we have to win one of the two major domestic titles, now the league is beyond our grasp."

Yousef Jaber, the defender, and Ismail Bouzid, the French midfielder, are both on two yellow cards and look certain to be left out when Baniyas travel to the Garden City.

Paulo Bonamigo, the Shabab coach, has also given up his team's hopes of challenging for the title, saying he "respects" Al Ain's lead at the top.

"We will try to go as close as possible but being nine points behind and six games left, only a miracle could win us the league," the Brazilian said.

"The important thing is that we bounced back from a heavy 6-1 defeat to Piroozi in the Asian Champions League in midweek. And this win showed the personality of our players. They did what we planned by marking the opposition well. We deserved to win because of the good first half we had."

Shabab took the lead midway in the first half. Hamdan Qassim's pass from the left bounced towards the unmarked Ciel, the Brazilian forward, whose shot ricocheted into the net off the inside of a post.

After a poor first half for Baniyas, Calderon made three substitutions just after the hour mark, bringing on Ahmed Ali, Fareed Ismail and Adnan Hussain for Haboush Saleh, Mohammed Fawzi and Thamer Mohammed.

The changes seemed to bring some urgency to their game as they pushed hard for an equaliser.

They had the ball in the net shortly after the substitutions but Ismail was ruled offside and the same player was denied again when his header was saved by the head of Ismail Rabee, the Shabab goalkeeper, from a dipping pass by Fawzi Bashir.

"Shabab had one opportunity and they scored, that too because of a defensive mistake," Calderon said. "We had a poor first half but a very good second half where we created a few chances but couldn't score."

Calderon said his players were returning from a hard fought 1-1 draw against the Uzbek club Pakhtakor in the Champions League in midweek.

"We still have a lot of games to play and a lot of work ahead," he said. "I have been with the team only for three months and we will hopefully get better."

apassela@thenational.ae

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