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It’s 50-50, says Bonamigo
(KT Reports by Alex Leach) / 21 May 2012
Al Shabab coach Paulo Bonamigo believes neither his — nor Al Ahli counterpart Quique Sanchez Flores’ — side are the favourites to win tonight’s Etisalat Cup final (kick-ff 7.45pm), with both teams having a 50-50 shot at the silverware.
Shabab enter the contest as the defending champions and they are currently three places and six points above sixth-placed Ahli in the Pro-League table.
That favourable predicament is only underlined by the knowledge that Shabab have already beaten Ahli in a cup competition with a 3-2 aggregate victory in the GCC Champions League final last year.
However, following a fair few costly injuries to some key playing personnel and a loss of form for Shabab, Bonamigo isn’t about to underestimate the threat posed by a seemingly revitalised Ahli under Flores.
“There are no favourites; both teams have equal chances of winning the game,” the Brazilian boss said. “I consider Al Ahli one of the best teams and their results prove that, especially right now as they’re in a good moment.
“Now, they’re playing a lot of matches and there’s no doubt we can see a lot of development and improvement of the team in their previous matches. It will be a very difficult game.”
Chilean talisman Carlos Villanueva’s absence through a cruciate ligament injury has been keenly felt in Shabab’s recent slump and his unavailability for this cup clash undoubtedly makes the task at hand a harder proposition.
Bonamigo is confident though those who step up to the starting XI for his walking wounded can fill the void, adding: “Our injured players will be replaced by a lot of motivation from the players who are replacing those who are out.”
Meanwhile, Bonamigo doesn’t seemingly believe Shabab’s near neighbours will expressly be out for revenge following their GCC Champions League heartbreak in November.
“We prefer to not talk about revenge because it might sound strange or rough to use those words,” he commented.
“We prefer to see this game as one more final, which is going to be a very tough, difficult match.
“You couldn’t see unfair play in the GCC Champions League games, so that’s what we expect on Monday.
“We’re not thinking that Al Ahli will be looking to take revenge on us. We believe that they’ll play the final and take it very seriously – as we want to – on Monday.”
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