Defending champions Al Ahli face Al Dhafra as Al Ain lock horns against Al Nasr in the semi - finals of the President’s Cup at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. The early evening encounter kicks off at 4.15pm and the late night match starts at 8pm at the same venue. Al Ahli assistant coach Catalin looked confident that the league’s leaders will continue their fine run when they lineup against the fast improving Al Dhafra. The two sides clashed in the 13th
round of the Arabian Gulf League at Rashid Stadium and Al Ahli won 3-1. But, the result was reversed to 0-3 and Al Dhafra were awarded the full points of the match by default. The competitions committee ruled that Al Ahli were guilty of fielding suspended player contrary to the regulations. However, Al Dhafra went on to beat hosts Emirates 3-2, drew their home clash 0-0 against Bani Yas and held Al Ain to a 1-1 draw at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, the third home venue for the Purple squad. However, the match is
particularly important for Al Ahli. And besides their ambitious campaign to defend their title and combine the three major trophies of the season, they are also looking forward to win their ninth President’s Cup crown and lower the records of Sharjah, eight time winners of the crown. In this case, Al Ahli will become the new ‘King’. But, Al Dhafra’s national coach Dr Abdulla Misfer must be looking forward to become the fifth national coach to win the prestigious trophy. In another clash, Al Ain will take on Al Nasr in a tough challenge at the same venue later in the night. Al Ain were held to 1-1 draw by visitors Al Dhafra on the opening day of the state - of - the - art new facility and they have too much work to do close on the leaders and improve their chances in title defence campaign. They are now 12 points of the pace with ten rounds remaining. Al Nasr have slipped to the 8th
position and settled one point behind Al Ain. Honestly speaking, they will be very lucky if they will manage
to finish in top four to reserve a spot in next year’s AFC Champions League, the premier football competition in Asia.