17 October 2014 16:38
Erbil and Al Qadsia will look to put past AFC Cup disappointments behind them when they contest this year’s final in Dubai on Saturday.
The two sides have been beaten finalists in each of the past two seasons, but now have the chance to go one better this time around and win the competition for the first time in their respective histories.
Erbil’s progression to the final was much tougher than this weekend’s opponents as their 3-2 semi-final win over Kitchee was dwarfed by Al Qadsia’s 10-2 triumph over Persipura Jayapura.
Ayoub Odisho, the Erbil coach, is confident his players can get the better of their Kuwaiti opponents.
“The past is the past,” he said.
“I have known this team [Al Qadsia] for many years but the way I have prepared my team mentally and physically, I know we are ready and we will forget about the past.”
Erbil will be without Iraq international Saad Abdul-Amir for the game through suspension, but otherwise Odisho has no team selection concerns.
With the game taking place in the United Arab Emirates rather than Iraq due to security reasons, Al Qadsia will hope they can use the neutral venue to their advantage as they look to avoid a second successive final defeat.
Head coach Antonio Puche has good attacking options available to him, with Bader Al Mutawa, Saif Al Hashan and Danijel Subotic having scored 13 AFC Cup goals between them so far in 2014.
Puche expects an exciting final, with Subotic eager to perform on the big stage and ensure a Kuwaiti side win the title for a third consecutive year.
“Both teams have had difficult games in the quarter-finals and the semi-finals,” said the Swiss striker.
“But there will be only one winner, and only one game whether it’s 90 minutes or 120 minutes and you have to win. We have come to take the cup to Kuwait.
“We don’t think about the opponent team, we have watched them but we have prepared ourselves.
“We have come here and we think about ourselves only and we will play our game and if we do that I’m sure we will take the cup.”