Al Jazira's day to shine as they become President's Cup champions
Al Jazira were crowned champions of the President's Cup for the first time in their history following their deserved 4-0 win over their city rivals Al Wahda in the final played last night at Zayed Sports City Stadium. The winners ended the first half only one goal in front, but raced ahead after the break adding three more.
Lt. General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, awarded the trophy and medals to the jubilant Al Jazira players at the end of the match.
The final was also attended by: Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Al Jazira Club; Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Advisor of the National Security, Vice-Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Sports Council; Sheikh Sultan Bin Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Ahmad Bin Nasir Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Al Wahda Club; Mohammad Khalfan Al Rumaithi, Chairman of UAE FA; Yousuf Abdullah, UAE FA Secretary General; along with a number of sports dignitaries. The match also attracted more than 38000 fans supporting their teams.
The two teams fought hard from the start of the game to try to open gaps that might lead to an early goal. Al Jazira were the first to hit the back of the net when Abdullah Mousa received a long ball from Yasir Matar, ran down the left flank before switching it in front of the goal mouth. The unmarked Brazilian player Bare did not find any difficulty in jumping high to head the ball into the net, leaving Al Wahda's custodian Adil Al Hosani with no chance, giving his side a 1-0 lead only 12 minutes into the game. Al Wahda rallied right afterwards to try to level the score and Ismaiel Matar had a good attempt but his volley went straight into the keeper Ali Khusaif's hands two minutes later. Basheer Saeed came from behind to send a perfect header into the net for Al Wahda, but the goal was disallowed due to offside in the 35th minute.
The two squads played a balanced game looking for more goals with Al Jazira trying to double their score and Al Wahda fighting for the equalizer, but they failed to capitalize on the chances that came their way. The defenders of both teams played with open eyes spoiling all the attempts and opportunities created by the front liners.
Al Wahda continued to exert every effort to square the game but they couldn't. Captain Hayder Alo Ali came close to net the equalizer but his fierce shot flew over the cross bar five minutes before the break. Fernando Baiano lost another sitter one minute later when he faced the goalkeeper, sending a weak volley that went wide. Their chances were dented whenAl Wahda's solid defender Basheer Saeed left the pitch due to a shoulder injury in the last minute of the first half, which ended with Al Jazira 1 - 0 up.
Al Wahda came out fighting in the second session and their Brazilian striker Fernando Baiano nearly made it 1-1 but his volley off a dead ball was deflected by Al Jazira's keeper Ali Khusaif to a corner four minutes after the break. Baiano failed to convert another sitter one minute later when his shot missed the target. His countryman Hugo also lost a third chance which was saved bravely by the keeper Ali Khusaif in the 59th minute. Al Jazira's performance dropped during this period relying heavily on defensive tactics with their midfielder Ibrahima Diaky out of color. But against the run of play in the 68th minute, Al Jazira surprised their rivals scoring a second goal. Bare received a pass at the right edge of the box, he switched the ball to the opposite side for his teammate Oliveira to slam it home with a perfect header to make it 2-0.
Al Wahda's coach Hickersberger made some changes bringing in Saeed Al Katheri and Mahmoud Saeed to replace Baiano and injured Essa Santo in the 70th minute. But Al Jazira's Brazilian player Bare put the match beyond Al Wahda's reach when he netted his second personal goal and the third for his side ten minutes before full time. He received a perfect pass on the right flank, stepped forward, rounded up two defenders before launching a rocket-like volley that beat goalie Adil Al Hosani to make it 3-0.
After the third goal, Al Jazira's coach Abel Braga looked comfortable with the lead and pulled off Brazilian Bare and Argentinean Delgado to bring on Ahmed Juma'a and Abdulla Qasim. Al Wahda, led by their dynamic midfielder Ismaeil Matar, exerted more efforts to reduce the deficit but their work was in vain. Al Jazira's substitute Ahmed Juma'a completed the tally, scoring the 4th goal in the 93rd minute. Yaser Matar of Al Jazira was given marching orders after collecting his second yellow card one minute to time.
Once the celebrations die down, Al Jazira will turn their attention back to the Etisalat Pro-League in the hope of securing a second set of silverware this season.
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