The pairing of last term’s top two in the Arabian Gulf League will provide the clear highlight when the 2016/17 competition kicks-off with the round of 16 on December 26 and 27.
Holders Al Jazira were pitted against newly-promoted Ittihad Kalba during Saturday’s cerem-ony in Abu Dhabi, while 2016 AFC Champions League quarter-finalists Al Nasr will play the winners of the Union Cup – a competition between First Division League-outfits in which the finalists make the UAE’s most-prestigious tournament.
But all other clashes pale into insignificance when compared to the mouth-watering early clash
“The pairing of the two huge clubs of Al Ain and Al Ahli in the round of 16 of the President’s Cup is a big loss for the tournament, because the two teams carry considerable prestige among the supporters of UAE football,” said Red Knights team supervisor Abdulmajeed Hussein.
“One team continuing at the expense of the other is a big loss. But the competition will be open with this draw, and it does not detract from the importance of the rest of the participating teams.
“Unfortunately, no mechanism exists to keep such clubs apart. This is why there is a strong confrontation between Al Ain and Al Ahli at the start of the tournament.”
It is not yet known where the clubs will meet, with no official announcement made about whether all matches will be played at neutral venues or the sides on the odd side of the draw will be the hosts.
Jazira defeated Al Ain on penalties during May 29’s showpiece.