Pro-league teams return to action

Pro-league teams return to action

Pro-league clubs return to action after almost a month break as the 20th round of the Arabian Gulf League gets underway over three days on Friday.

By Hisham Al Gizouli

Published: Fri 21 Mar 2014, 9:58 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:18 PM

All eyes will be on hosts Al Ain as they take on Al Ahli. — KT file

And with six rounds remaining, runners up Al Shabab face the challenge of the most improving Al Dhafra at their home ground Maktoum bin Rashid Stadium at 5.45pm on Friday. And while Al Shabab remained in action and played two matches in the group stage of the GCC Club Cup besides a friendly against New York Cosmos, Al Dhafra players remained quiet following their sad ejection from the semi-finals of the UAE League Cup at the hands of Al Jazira. But, in all cases, it’s a must win for the Marcos Paqueta’s boys to bridge the six points gap which separate them from front runners Al Ahli and wait for a kiss of life from Al Ain when they host the Red Knights on Sunday.

In another clash, Ajman host Al Shaab at the same time in Ajman. Both sides face a true threat of relegation to the lower level unless a miracle happens. Ajman have collected 15 points from 19 starts and they are only four points better than their today’s opponents in a delicate balance of power.

Later in the night, Sharjah entertain Al Nasr in the middle of the table encounter. Sharjah are four points ahead of the Dubai side with 34 points and need to maintain their advantage to finish in the top four and secure a berth in the next year’s AFC Champions League. Al Nasr are equally have the same dream which gives the confrontation a special taste of challenge. On Saturday, Dubai lock horns against crisis-hit Al Wasl in a one-way clash for them. Dubai are tailing off the standings list with nine points while Al Wasl have already reached the safe waters with 20 points, but they need to win to reconcile with their angry fans. The poor result of the former champions did not only claim the head of their previous coaches right from Diego Maradona down to Hector Cuper, but they have also forced the club’s management to step down and a new board was inserted to take over.

The late night match on Saturday feature Al Jazira versus Al Wahda at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in what is traditionally known as Abu Dhabi derby. The two giants have no real title dreams or relegation threat, and the only challenge ahead is who will emerge winner?

Bani Yas host the Emirates at Al Shamkha in a clash which is particularly important for the Emirates in order to improve their chances to maintain their pro-league status. However, all eyes will be on Al Ain versus Al Ahli clash of the titans at the new Shaikh Hazza bin Zayed state-of-the-art facility in Al Ain City at 8.30pm.

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