Fresh off the back of booking a place in the 2015 GCC Club Cup Final thanks to a 3-1 aggregate win over fellow Dubai side Al Nasr on Tuesday night, club captain Carlos Villanueva says spirits are sky-high in the Al Shabab dressing room as they turn their attentions to Saturday’s President’s Cup Quarter Final clash with Bani Yas. Speaking exclusively to uaefa.ae, Villanueva said: “Reaching the final of the GCC Club Cup gives us more motivation, and a lot of confidence in what we are doing. We are strong mentally and technically so I think we are well prepared to face Bani Yas. We give 100% respect to them; they are a good team and they beat another good team like Al Wasl to reach this stage of the President’s Cup, so it’s going to be a very difficult game, but the whole squad is very focused on what we want to achieve.”
With little time to recuperate between fixtures, the Al Shabab squad will focus on recuperation rather than training ahead of Saturday’s tie at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, whilst Bani Yas go into the game rested after a full week of preparation. “It’s a little bit tough for us because we are playing every three to four days and now the weather is really becoming hot, so we finish the game more tired and we don’t have much time to recover before the next match,” Villanueva commented. “We have to prepare immediately through recovery training to try to be 100% ready for the game,” the Chilean added.
In fine form, with two goals in the 5-2 President’s Cup victory away at Emirates and a penalty in Tuesday night’s GCC Club Cup Semi Final triumph, Villanueva demonstrates a captain’s instinct by deflecting the attention away from his own personal successes. “Of course I’m very happy that I’ve been scoring but the most important thing is that the team is winning, because now we are at a stage where, if we lose any game, we are out of the competitions we are playing in.”
And despite many fellow professionals already packing their bags and heading off on their summer holidays, Villanueva and his teammates insist that exiting the President’s Cup early is unthinkable, saying: “It’s been a very long season but we definitely don’t want to finish yet; we want to finish on 3rd June. This is our target: to play until the Final of the President’s Cup. We are totally focused on this. We know that some teams are already on vacation, but we don’t mind and we want to continue right until the end of the season because we want to achieve our targets.”
Al Shabab v Bani Yas
President’s Cup Quarter Final
Saturday 23rd May 2015, kick-off 7:45pm
Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium