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Shabab Al Ahli rally past Coutinho's Duhail to lift UAE-Qatar Shield Cup

The opening and closing of the UAE-Qatar Super Shield Cup was marked with entertainment and fireworks galore
13 Apr 2024 23:34

Kuumar Shyam (Dubai)

A persistent Shabab Al Ahli clinched the inaugural UAE-Qatar Super Shield Cup with a comeback 2-1 victory against Al Duhail at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai on Saturday. The match was between the domestic champions of both countries.

The fare on display and all the goals were a perfect advertisement for the new venture’s future as headers from Luka Milivojevic and Igor Jesus got the hosts through after Philippe Coutinho had came up with a long-range screamer to put the visitors ahead.

Shabab Al Ahli were swimming against the tide despite a gutsy effort from everyone, once Coutinho put scored in the 35th minute for the Qatar Stars League holders. Post the breather, a different approach got the hosts the much-needed equaliser when Bader Nasser’s free-kick from 40 metres out was intercepted by the former Crystal Palace captain Milivojevic in the 54th minute.

With the clock counting in for four minutes of injury time, the Shabab fans were getting restless because the manager brought in Yuri Cesar for the workhorse Guillerhme Silva instead of the slightly low-par Jesus and Munas Dabbur, while the goalkeeper on the bench was preparing to come on for the penalties.

A free-kick was won, and Shabab decided to repeat the goal trick. The winning assist, though, came from the young Yahya Al Ghassani, who also seemed lacking his finishing touch for most of the game. In the end, he and Jesus made amends and that is all that mattered to the home fans.

A glittering entertainment programme, packed with laser show and fireworks portraying the tradition and culture of the UAE, whetted the appetite for the match nicely; the players did not disappoint.

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The hosts side at the first crack when a corner kick did not quite reach for a decent header attempt for Jesus and it went wide from a chested effort.

Ismail Mohamad came out in 25th minute with a collision injury and he got replaced by Tahsin Mohammed. The changeover saw a flurry of chances for Shabab. (Ironically, Mohammed would also be substituted with cramps, and also to buy time for Duhail to regroup.)

Duhail goalkeeper Shehab Ellethy parried one, Jesus sent in a bullet half-volley wide over and then Dabbur lobbed one to the far post and some deflection nearly caught Ellethy off-balance. The attempts to play one-touch football did not work much for Shabab.

But just then Shabab were caught napping, especially the custodian Adel Aboubaker. With some crosses being floated in to no avail, Coutinho unleashed a curler from his right foot to the nearest left post from the narrowest of angles and from 35 yards away.

It was then again Shabab’s turn to soak in some threats. Abubaker judged wrongly in rushing out and could have been caught out in covering up the other end in back-to-back moves, but the defenders stepped in nicely to avoid further damage.

There were a couple of counter-attacking moves just before half-time from Shabab with fortuitious balls leaking through the pressing Duhail defence, but Ellethy managed to stave them off.

Al Duhail were hoping a title here would compensate for being behind in the league. They are in sixth place with 25 points and only three more rounds remaining. They are managed by former Paris Saint-Germain coach Christopher Galtier. Al Ahli are second in the ADNOC Pro League, but behind runaway leaders Al Wasl after 20 matches.

  • The UAE-Qatar Shield Cup was bookended by a well-arranged display of culture and tradition along with fire and laser works (Kuumar Shyam)
    The UAE-Qatar Shield Cup was bookended by a well-arranged display of culture and tradition along with fire and laser works (Kuumar Shyam)


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