All eyes will be on Sharjah Stadium when Shabab Al Ahli take on Al Nasr on Friday at 19:05 in the eagerly anticipated Arabian Gulf Cup final, which will be held under the slogan “Year of the 50th Cup Final” in celebration of the UAE’s Golden Jubilee.
The record four-time champions will lock horns with the titleholders in a repeat of last year’s final, which saw Al Nasr claim their second title. The Blues will be looking to earn their second title in a row. Meanwhile, their opponents will be seeking to avenge last season's defeat while eyeing a record-extending fifth title.
Although reigning champions Al Nasr received a bye into the quarter-final, their road to the 2020-2021 final has been a bumpy one. They edged Fujairah 2-1 on aggregate in the quarters after drawing 1-1 at home and winning 1-0 away from home. They were then pitted against underdogs Ittihad Kalba, who grabbed a 2-1 advantage in the first leg and Al Nasr won the second leg with the same scoreline before advancing to the final on penalties.
With Argentine coach Ramón Díaz at the helm, Al Nasr head into the final with a star-studded squad. It includes Toze, who was involved in 8 goals in the past 8 games, scoring 4 goals and assisting 4, in addition to in-form Ryan Mendes and Diaa Saba.
On the other hand, it has been a fairly smooth ride to Sharjah for Shabab Al Ahli, who beat Al Dhafra 4-1 on aggregate in the playoffs (1-1 draw at home and 3-0 away win). Then, they headed into the semi-final with a 9-2 aggregate win over Khorfakkan before overpowering Al Wasl 5-1 on aggregate to book their spot in the final.
Shabab Al Ahli boss Mahdi Ali will be seeking his second accolade of the season after sealing the Arabian Gulf Super Cup title against Sharjah. Igor Jesus, who was involved in 7 goals in 5 matches (4 goals and 3 assists), is likely to play a big role in the final alongside Carlos Eduardo, Federico Cartabia, and Jaloliddin Masharipov.