Al Wasl and Al Wahda's players during an Arabian Gulf Cup match.
The Arabian summer may be slowly giving way to a pleasant winter but some of the clubs in the Arabian Gulf League are feeling the heat. It is still early days of the season in the top tier of UAE football but a few of the storied clubs are not where they want to be.
Four matches in, clubs like Al Sharjah, Al Wahda and Al Nasr are stuck in mid-table mediocrity despite the personnel that they possess. So, the fifth round to be played out this weekend, holds more weightage in terms of their fortunes as well as the future of their managers.
The big game over the weekend is undoubtedly the Al Quasis Derby between Al Shabab and Al Ahli, the last fixture of the fifth round, a late ? kick-off on Friday night. But then, the centre of attention will be in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi where Al Wahda play hosts to Al Nasr at the Al Nahyan Stadium on Friday evening.
Both these clubs have had a terrible start to the season and find themselves eighth and ninth respectively. It is not a true reflection of two illustrious sides that are capable of much more. But it is what is.
Al Wahda and Al Nasr have only one win to show from four outings with the former drawing two and losing one. Al Nasr have fared much worse, losing three and while the club has refuted reports saying that the coach Ivan Jovanovic is to get the sack, there is no denying the fact that Jovanovic as well Javier Aguirre, his opposite number at Al Wahda, are under increasing pressure to pull them out of the rut.
After draws against newcomers Hatta and city rivals Al Jazira, Al Wahda blanked Al Dhafra. But The Clarets go into this fixture on the back of a 2-1 loss to Al Wasl at home. Meanwhile, for Al Nasr, their AFC Champions League exit has perhaps played on their minds. After their opening day win against Al Dhafra, the Blue Wave have faced stiff tests against Al Ahli, Al Wasl and Al Ain and come out on the losing side.
So, it will be interesting to see how it plays out at the Al Nahyan Stadium. The round begins with Al Dhafra hosting Ittihad Kalba on Thursday. Al Wasl take on Al Sharjah at the Zabeel Stadium, while Al Jazira meet Bani Yas at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Both are late kick-offs on Thursday night.