Shabab Al Ahli and Al Wahda had a long road to the final of the Arabian Gulf Cup set to be held at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Friday.
The route of each team to the final was very different. The Clarets advanced easily from the group stage and the knock-out stage, while Shabab Al Ahli struggled on their way to the final.
Both teams were drawn in Group A and clashed in the first round of the group stage in a game that ended in a 1-0 win for Al Wahda, thanks Leonardo da Souza’s winner.
Al Wahda maintained their positive performances as they defeated Al Wasl 3-0, beat Ajman 1-0 and overpowered Dibba 2-0. Their perfect start to the competition saw them collect 12 points in the first four matchweeks to seal an early spot in the quarter-final.
They were, however, held to a goalless draw with Bani Yas, before beating Ittihad Kalba 2-0 in their final group stage game.
They finished the group stage as Group A winners with 16 points, while scoring nine goals and keeping a clean sheet in all their games.
On the other hand, Shabab Al Ahli’s performances fluctuated throughout the group stage. They lost their opener to Al Wahda before beating Al Wasl and Ajman. They then suffered a defeat to Dibba to collect six points only from their first four games.
Shabab Al Ahli returned to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Bani Yas then drew 0-0 with Ittihad Kalba. By the end of the group stage, Shabab Al Ahli had collected 10 points, scored six goals and conceded four.
Al Wahda continued their impressive performances in the knock-out stage. They clashed with Emirates Club, who finished fourth in Group B, in the quarter-final and earned an easy 5-0 win to advance to the semis.
Meanwhile, Shabab Al Ahli had a tougher test as they were pitted against Al Jazira, who finished third in Group B. Shabab Al Ahli netted two goals deep in injury time to earn a 4-2 win and seal their spot in the semi-final.
The Clarets conceded their first goal in the competition against Bani Yas in the semi-final, but were able to emerge 4-1 victorious to reach the final.
On the other hand, Shabab Al Ahli struggled against Al Nasr as the game ended in a 0-0 draw, forcing the match into extra time, which saw each side score a goal. The game came down to a penalty shoot-out which saw Shabab Al Ahli win to reach the final.
Al Wahda netted 18 goals and conceded one on their route to the final, while Shabab Al Ahli scored 11 and conceded seven.
Shabab Al Ahli already have three Arabian Gulf Cup titles to their name (2012, 2014 and 2017), while Al Wahda have two (2016 and 2018).