Double for Shabab Al Ahli

Double for Shabab Al Ahli
Shabab Al Ahli players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Al Dhafra in the President's Cup final in Al Ain on Monday night. - Supplied photo

Dubai - The Dubai club beat Al Dhafra in the President's Cup final to add to their Arabian Gulf Cup trophy this season

By James Jose

Published: Tue 30 Apr 2019, 8:59 PM

Last updated: Tue 30 Apr 2019, 11:04 PM

Every team goes through that cycle, a period where the highs become lows, a period that tests the very foundation and character of the club. Shabab Al Ahli, merged from Al Ahli, Al Shabab and Dubai FC, just went through one and have come out better from the experience.
Following a transitional phase that has seen players and coaches come and go, things seem to be falling in place for the Dubai club, under new coach in Rodolfo Arruabarrena, formerly with Al Wasl.
The Al Quasis club laid their hands on the prestigious President's Cup, their second piece of silverware this season, after seeing off a gritty Al Dhafra in the final at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain on Monday night.
The hero of the night was UAE international Ahmed Khalil, the 2015 AFC Asian Player of the Year, who scored a brace in their 2-1 victory.
Khalil, who has been battling injuries lately, gave Shabab Al Ahli the lead on 31 minutes before adding the second, 20 minutes from the final whistle. Saeed Al Kathiri, formerly with Al Wahda, pulled one back for Al Dhafra, on 77 minutes.
Coming on the back of their Arabian Gulf Cup triumph against Al Wahda in March, it has been an amazing turnaround for the club, who were right at the top, in their former guise. Their famed rivalry with Al Ain was the part of folklore over the past few seasons.
Their latest triumph, named after The President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was their ninth overall, a record, although their first after being rebranded two years ago.
The victory also had an added benefit to it with Shabab Al Ahli sealing their qualification for next season's AFC Champions League. They were runners-up in the continental competition in 2015, losing to Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande.
In a game where both sides had a fair share of chances, Mauro Diaz whipped in an inch perfect corner and Khalil rose high to head home to put Shabab Al Ahli ahead.
The 27-year-old then unleashed a scorching freekick that reduced the Al Dhafra shot stopper Khalid Al Senani to a mere spectator, as it nestled into the top left corner of the net.
Al Dhafra managed to reduce the deficit after Saeed Al Kathiri sent his low header past goalkeeper Majed Naser following a fine cross from Khalid Bawazir from the left.
The Western Knights threw the kitchen sink but an equalizer proved to be elusive.
9 Shabab Al Ahli
8 Sharjah
7 Al Ain
4 Al Nasr
4 Al Shabab
3 Al Jazira
2 Al Wahda
2 Al Wasl
1 Emirates, Al Shaab, Bani Yas, Ajman
2017-18: Al Ain
2016-17: Al Wahda
2015-16: Al Jazira
2014-15: Al Nasr
2013-14: Al Ain
2012-13: Shabab Al Ahli
2011-12: Al Jazira
2010-11: Al Jazira
2009-10: Emirates
2008-09: Al Ain

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