Sharjah’s treble domestic assault on silverware will continue on Friday in the Arabian Gulf Cup quarter-finals.
The King have embraced their hunt for glory this term, sitting top of the 2020/21 Arabian Gulf League after suffering only one loss and storming into the President’s Cup semi-finals with a 4-0 dismantling of Al Dhafra. They next host Al Wasl, rejuvenated by last month’s poaching of coveted coach Odair Hellmann from Fluminense, in this weekend’s AG Cup last-eight opener.
“It is an important tournament for us through which we seek to continue our strong performances,” said boss Abdulaziz Al Anbari, whose club has never lifted this trophy. “The new [knockout] system requires careful handling and high concentration of all players.”
Bani Yas, meanwhile, will hope to extend dreams of converting an encouraging campaign into silverware when they meet fellow dark horses Ittihad Kalba.
The Sky Blues limped home ninth in the top flight last term and exited the AG Cup in the – now-defunct – group stage. Former Romania Under-21 tactician Daniel Isaila has transformed ambitions for a side currently in fourth and who have won six of their last seven fixtures in all competitions.
Opponents Kalba sit an exceptional seventh in the table, though they’ve drawn their last three fixtures in the absence of suspended Togo hit man Peniel Mlapa.
“We are optimistic and the atmosphere is great among the players, as we are going through a good period,” said Isaila ahead of Friday’s first leg at Bani Yas Stadium. “We are still competing on all fronts and we are waiting for this tournament because it is one of our goals.”
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club could hand an immediate debut to UAE Under-21 winger Yahya Al Ghassani at Khor Fakkan, after Monday’s move from Al Wahda. Thursday’s other tie will see third-placed Al Nasr host a Fujairah outfit who’ve lost six of their last seven matches, in all competitions.
AG CUP QUARTER-FINALS
17:00 Khor Fakkan v Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club
20:00 Al Nasr v Fujairah
17:00 Bani Yas v Ittihad Kalba
20:00 Sharjah v Al Wasl
17:15 Fujairah v Al Nasr
20:00 Ittihad Kalba v Bani Yas
17:15 Shabab Al Ahli v Khor Fakkan
20:00 Al Wasl v Sharjah