Al Ahli clinch President’s Cup for 8th time

Al Ahli clinch President’s Cup for 8th time James Jose / 29 May 2013 Ten-man Al Ahli beat Dubai rivals Al Shabab in a seven-goal thriller to win the prestigious President’s Cup for a record eighth time at a packed Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday night. In a top quality game, where no quarter was given nor taken, Al Ahli eventually won 4-3 to finish the season with silverware. Their eighth title tied them with Al Sharjah, who too have won eight times. Al Ahli were in the inaugural winners in the 1974-75 season. The last time they won it was in the 2007-08 season. General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, gave away the Cup. Al Ahli started strongly, while surprisingly, Al Shabab looked nowhere near a team that was playing a Cup final. Except for a wayward Ciel attempt in the fifth minute, it was Al Ahli all along right until the half-hour mark. Ciel had the first chance of the match when he came up with a fine solo down the right but shot across even though there was no one in support upfront. Al Ahli broke the deadlock in the next minute through Adnan Hussein Al Balooshi. Adnan Hussein darted down the right, drew goalkeeper Salem Abdulla out before slotting it over him. Grafite could have added a second on nine minutes when he sprinted in from the left but defender Walid Abbas, who had tailed him all along, made a fine clearance. They did increase the lead though on 15 minutes through Grafite. Amir Mubarak sent in a clever through pass and Grafite broke the off-side trap before tapping it into goal. Al Ahli kept at it and could have added another five minutes later but Grafite headed over the cross bar after a Abdulaziz Hussein cross from the right. Al Shabab had a chance in the next minute but Dawood Ali shot it over the cross bar, from range. Al Ahli, then had a couple of chances but Grafite hit the side netting from an acute angle after he had won the ball from Salem Abdulla. Then, Adnan Hussein sent in a beautiful cross from the right but Ismail Hammadi was a touch too late on it, despite lunging forward. Al Shabab earned a corner after captain Azizbek Haydarov’s shot from the edge of the box was deflected away by Majed Hassan. And Al Shabab put themselves on the scoresheet from that Ciel corner with Edgar Bruno Da Silva sending a powerful header home. That brought the spring back into Al Shabab’s game and they started looking more and more lethal thereafter. Dawood Ali came up with two fine assists before the end of the first half. Ali floated in a brilliant cross from the right but Edgar’s shot went just whizzed over the cross bar, on 41 minutes. Two minutes later, he made his way in from the right of the box and crossed but goalkeeper Majed Nasser made a collection before Hassan Ibrahim could get to it. And in the three minutes of stoppage time, Esam Dhahi’s header just whizzed over the woodwork, off a Ciel corner. Al Shabab came back into the game with Edgar finding the equaliser, four minutes after the restart after a clever piece of work by Ciel. Ciel smartlt took a short freekick and gave it to Luiz Henrique, who went in and passed for Edgar, who slotted it home with ease. Al Ahli were awarded a penalty by referee Fahad Al Qasar in the 53 rd minute after Adnan Hussein was brought down inside the box by goalkeeper Salem Abdulla. But Salem Abdulla atoned for that mistake by diving to his right to block Grafite’s penalty and keep Al Shabab in the game. But Al Ahli did take the lead with Luis Antonio Jimenez firing in a beautiful freekick into goal, from the left of the box. Al Shabab were then given a penalty on 80 minutes after Luiz Henrique was brought down by Abdulaziz Hussein inside the box. And Ciel made no mistake from the spot on 81 minutes, for the equaliser. It seemed to be heading into extra-time but Al Shabab’s Edgar contrived to deflect it into his own goal to give the match-winner to Al Ahli. With five minutes of regulation time left, Al Ahli earned a corner and Ismail Al Hammadi shot it goalward from the right. But the ball took a deflection off Edgar and went into goal. Al Ahli were down to 10 men with a minute left after captain Grafite was sent off for a second booking, after fouling Hassain Ibrahim. Taylor Scott International

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