Lebanon centre-back Joan Oumari has spent less than five months at Al Nasr, but there is no doubting how aware he is of the President’s Cup final’s importance.
Oumari, 28, only missed one game as the Blue Wave finished sixth in the Arabian Gulf League after he was snapped up from Turkey’s Sivasspor in January. This leading role means he will be at the heart of a defence on Friday against Al Wahda which will aim to provide the platform for a second victory in the UAE’s most-cherished competition in three years.
Much of the team which beat Al Ahli on penalties in 2015 remains and they have let the winter buy know what is expected at Zayed Sports City.
Oumari said: “For everybody, it is very, very nice to be in the final of the President’s Cup. For me also, it has been a very nice four months in which I have been here.
“Everybody has told me it is very nice to win the final. You will see the Sheikhs, and that is very, very important for everybody.”
The Blue Wave stumbled after beating Hatta 1-0 in last month’s semi-final, drawing one and losing two of their last three fixtures. This has not perturbed boss Dan Petrescu, who insists the fact the matches were versus title chasers (Al Jazira) and relegation battlers (Bani Yas and Emirates Club) was decisive.
“In the last games, we played teams who were fighting,” said the ex-Chelsea right-back, whose contract expires this month.
“My players fight, but maybe they were thinking about the final.
“They must go on the pitch and show they can win a cup.”
Nasr have been boosted by striker Wanderley’s return to training after injury.
In the opposite corner, Sebastian Tagliabue will lead the charge for the Clarets after another prolific campaign. The Argentine hitman was shackled in February’s 3-0 top-flight win and Oumari is prepared for the stern challenge ahead.
He said: “We won 3-0 when I played against Tagliabue, but I think he is very strong. He can keep the ball very well and we must press him.”
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