The Al Ain squad in a training session ahead of the final UAE Super Cup final against Sharjah tomorrow. Image Credit: Twitter / Al Ain FC

Dubai: ADNOC Pro League titleholders Al Ain face UAE President’s Cup champions Sharjah on Saturday night in the highly-anticipated UAE Super Cup final.

Held under the slogan of “Emirati Super”, the 15th edition will take place at Al Maktoum Stadium with both sides desperate to grab the first title of 2023.

The showpiece is set to be a fascinating affair between the two UAE Pro League giants who are currently locked in joint third place in the league.

Late winner

In their last match, Al Ain saw off Al-Ittihad Kalba 3-2 thanks to an injury time winner from Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba whilst Sharjah suffered a late defeat to Khor Fakkan. The focus now shifts to the final to see who lifts the coveted trophy with the match set to head straight to a penalty shootout to decide a winner if the teams are tied after 90 minutes.

Al Ain booked their place in the final after claiming the ADNOC Pro League title last year. Serhiy Rebrov’s men were outstanding and deservedly topped the standings with 65 points following 20 wins, five draws and just one defeat. But that solitary loss came against Sharjah who will feel confident that they can beat them once again. Al Zaeem boasted the strongest attack and defense last season. Thanks to their enterprising play they scored 57 goals whilst only conceding 17.

This is the seventh time they will be participating in the UAE Super Cup and former Tottenham and Dynamo Kyiv star Rebrov will be trying to guide them to a fourth title. They won the trophy in the 2009-10, 2012-13, and 2015-16 seasons.

Tough run

Sharjah, managed by Olaroiu Cosmin, booked their place after beating Al Wahda 1-0 in the 2021-22 UAE President’s Cup. They had to show their mettle during their cup run where they faced five tough matches before ultimately winning the title. The Kings won their first UAE Super Cup in the 2019-2020 season after beating Shabab Al Ahli on penalties and this will be their third appearance in the final.

The two sides will be meeting for the first time in the UAE Super Cup but have played against each other 31 times in all competitions during the professional era. Al Ain have 15 wins, Sharjah have 6 while 10 have ended all square. There have been plenty of goals during those clashes too – 110 to be precise, at a rate of 3.5 per match. That means we could be in for a classic as the teams go all out for the win in front of a capacity 15,000 crowd.