Dubai: Shabab Al Ahli Dubai’s coach Mehdi Ali had promised that his team would “fight for the full 90 minutes”.
On Friday night, and with fans from neither side to cheer them on, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai relied on a snap strike deep into injury time from substitute Mohammad Marzooq to secure the Arabian Gulf Super Cup crown with a 1-0 win against defending champions Sharjah at Al Nasr Club’s Al Maktoum Stadium.
After playing out a goalless first half that saw the Dubai side enjoy a major part of the possession, it was Marzouq’s strike in the very last move of the game that proved the difference and knocked off the defending champions to hand Ali’s men their first trophy of the season.
The one-off competition had promised to be evenly contested, but that turned out to be otherwise as Shabab Al Ahli dictated possession over long spells against the defending champions.
And just when it looked as though the match was headed for extra-time, substitute Marzouq was at hand to plough home the match-winner and give Shabab Al Ahli Dubai their sixth win in this traditional season-opening competition.
Coincidentally, it was Marzooq who had accompanied Ali at the pre-match press conference, late on Thursday.
The 13th edition of the Arabian Gulf Super Cup was under the ‘Our Winter is Super’ slogan, in support of the ‘World’s Coolest Winter’ initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, which aims at promoting UAE’s strategy for domestic tourism and its unified tourism identity.
The Arabian Gulf Super is usually contested by the Arabian Gulf League and Arabian Gulf Cup champions.
Both Sharjah and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai were aiming for their sixth crown with the Arabian Gulf League champions winning in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2019, while the Dubai side had achieved success in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2017. The two teams had last clashed in this competition in 2019 with Sharjah walking away winners following their 4-3 penalty shoot-out triumph in September 2019.