Al Wasl woes won't distract Shabab Al Ahli boss Mahdi Ali in Arabian Gulf Cup semi-finals

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Al Wasl forward Fabio De Lima in action against Arabian Gulf Cup semi-final opponents Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club (PLC).

Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club coach Mahdi Ali has not been lulled into a false sense of security by the recent travails of Arabian Gulf Cup semi-final opponents Al Wasl, as he looks to claim silverware from a trying inaugural campaign.

Teething problems have defined the club’s painful situation since May’s shock merger of Al Shabab, last term’s Cup winners Al Ahli and promoted Dubai CSC. They now have a chance to earn a shot at glory from Friday over two legs against the Cheetahs who once looked bound for an incredible 2017/18, but have lost their last four games in the Arabian Gulf League and AFC Champions League.

“Our players will not be fooled by the negative results of Al Wasl recently, and will be focused on achieving a positive result,” said ex-UAE tactician Ali, whose troops sit a distant sixth in the top flight after a string of injuries and call-ups to national service.

“I have great confidence in the players and their ability to manage the game.”

Prolific Senegalese centre forward Makhete Diop and UAE full-back Abdelaziz Sanqour head a list of seven major absentees.

Meanwhile, opposite number Rodolfo Arruabarrena is determined to end his storied club’s long trophy drought.

Wasl were the UAE’s dominant club of the 1980s, but last lifted the 2009/10 GCC Champions League.

Arruabarrena said: “I know how much the fans want to win this title.

“The league has been 99 per cent decided, so in the coming period we will strive to get into at least one cup final.”

Wasl are certain to be without banned 12-goal striker Caio Canedo. They can gain confidence from the fact when the teams last met on December 8 in the AGL, they earned a dominant 3-0 victory.


Al Wahda will not struggle for motivation when they scrap for a spot in the Arabian Gulf Cup’s final against Dibba Al Fujairah, according to coach Laurentiu Reghecampf.

The 2015/16 winners will be overwhelming favourites on Friday against minnows who have never got this far before and have battled relegation all season. Their only worry is the comedown from last week’s 6-2 thrashing in the Arabian Gulf League-summit meeting at bitter rivals Al Ain.

“We have enough motivation to bypass the Arabian Gulf Cup’ semi-finals and win the title,” said Reghecampf. “But we know the Dibba Al Fujairah game will be difficult.”

Meanwhile, Dibba tactician Paulo Comelli has vowed to go on the front foot against lauded opponents.

A yawning seven places and 19 points separate the combatants in the top flight.

Comelli said: “The game is very important for our team. We have made history with this club by qualifying to this stage and we will try to get as far as possible.”

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