Royal glory in sight

September 30 - October 6, 2020

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Gulf Weekly Royal glory in sight

Hotshots Al Hidd are confident they can crown their season with glory and take silverware when they face mighty Muharraq FC in the King’s Cup Final.

The game will be played behind closed doors on October 12 at the Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Isa Town.

Al Hidd FC, like others across the sporting world, have had to adapt to Covid-19 regulations and sit in third place in the Nasser bin Hamad Premier League, behind their cup final rivals and top placed Al Riffa, who they beat over a two-legged semi-final.

“Despite the significant changes to our strategy we have been forced to make due to the pandemic, I think we are in a very good position to take the cup this year,” Al Hidd FC coach Mohamed Al-Shamlan told GulfWeekly, on the sidelines of a training session.

“There’s no doubt that Muharraq has put together a great team, but we are hoping to exploit their defensive line, which is a bit on the weak side, in my opinion.

“Five years ago, we played Busaiteen in the final match, beating them for the cup and we are hoping to repeat history.

“We have some very strong players, many of whom also play for the national team. Abdulwahab Almalood, Mohamed Abdulwahab and Ahmed Bughammar have all been doing exceptionally well, but most of all, the team’s cohesion is at its all-time best, despite all the challenges.”

The team has had to rethink its entire procedure since regulations came into effect to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Showers at the team’s practice facility have been suspended indefinitely and social distancing is enforced as much as possible.

Ever since two people connected to the players were diagnosed with the virus, the team has been on high alert, instituting tests before each game.

Al-Shamlan said the club was grateful to the Ministry of Youth and Sports for its support in providing guidelines to ensure everyone’s health and safety remains a priority.

“Up to 48 hours before every game, we are required to test every player,” he added.

“In case any player tests positive, the game is suspended. The Ministry has been providing testing facilities to ensure these tests are done in a timely and safe fashion, with results available quickly.

“In addition, even during training, every player has their individual buckets of water bottles to minimise contact between players.

“We have seen the biggest impact in terms of team-building and strategy sessions. While I am a big proponent of analysing our games before and after each match, we have had to do that online now, instead of in the team locker room.

“Twice a week, we have an online strategy and training session. Of course, it has been difficult since we are discouraged from even celebrating goals as a team, but we are doing our best, and once things get better, we are looking forward to seeing our fans in person.”

The King’s Cup, an annual knock-out competition, was first staged 68 years ago and usually attracts a full house at the national stadium.

To reach the final Al Hidd had to overcome Malkiya, Al Shabbab and Al Riffa.

Al-Shamlan added: “It has been difficult not having our fans cheering us on, but we are starting to engage with them more via social media.

“We are doing more highlight videos, player interviews and analyses on our social media channels, which fans have been enjoying and supporting even though they can’t be at the games.

“We hope to bring them joy at the final, even if it’s only electronically!”

For details, follow @hiddclub_bh on Instagram.

More on Sport