Dubai: Sharjah will take on Shabab Al Ahli Dubai in the one-off Arabian Gulf Super Cup to kick off the UAE’s football season, on September 3.
Played between the previous season’s professional league champions and UAE President’s Cup winners, this year’s traditional season-opener will see a re-match between league champions Sharjah and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai following last week’s premature cancellation of all future football activity in the UAE due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year, Sharjah had secured their first silverware of the season with a 4-3 win on penalties after being tied goalless with Shabab Al Ahli Dubai.
Last weekend’s announcement had led to the UAE Pro League announcing that UAE football would stick to previous season’s winners to decide on the spots for competitions organised by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Consequently, Sharjah Club and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai will be joined by Al Ain and Al Wahda as the UAE’s representatives for the AFC Champions League that is due to get under way with preliminary rounds later in September.
On Thursday, the UAE Pro League announced that all competitions will get under way on September 3 with the Arabian Gulf Cup, followed by the opening rounds of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) from September 9. The U21 Arabian Gulf League will commence two days later.
Thursday’s announcement follows a series of coordination meetings with all stakeholders, including a joint meeting with the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) earlier in the week that was attended by representatives of the national teams’ committee and the competitions’ committee.
It was followed by a meeting with the professional clubs last Tuesday attended by clubs’ representatives and then a third meeting with the broadcast right holders.
UAE Pro League board member and head of Technical Committee Hassan Taleb Al Marri praised all stakeholders for their cooperation throughout the detailed discussions that eventually led to the announcement regarding the start of the new football season.
“In setting the calendar, we were keen to have matches scheduled on weekends to ensure maximum levels of viewership and attendances,” Al Marri said.
“The calendar also took into consideration preparing players for national team duty by playing three matchweeks in the league ahead of the joint qualifiers in October 2020, and also scheduled two matchweeks in September prior to the AFC Champions League resumption to help our clubs prepare for the competition."
“We are always striving to have a uniform schedule that serves the best interests of our national teams and clubs. We look forward to a successful season, be it technically or in terms of media, marketing and attendances, and with everyone’s efforts, we can deliver just that."