Glory awaits the Red Knights

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Glory awaits the Red Knights
Al Ahli's Majed Hassan (left) and Al Ain's Danilo Asprilla go for the ball during their AGL clash. Al Ahli won that match 1-0.

Dubai - Dubai giants Al Ahli need a point from final two games to dethrone 'The Boss'

By James Jose

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Published: Tue 26 Apr 2016, 10:18 PM

Last updated: Thu 28 Apr 2016, 12:21 AM

For all intents and purposes, this season's Arabian Gulf League is as good as over. All Al Ahli need is one point from the last two League fixtures of the season to take the glistening Shield away from Al Ain for a seventh title in UAE's top flight.
But what if, and that's a big 'if,' that the Red Knights lose those two fixtures against Bani Yas and demoted Al Shaab and defending champions Al Ain go on and win their last two against relegation-threatened Fujairah and Emirates. Then, that Shield will remain at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium for a record 13th time.
It would leave both tied on the same number of points and Al Ain would hold the edge on a better head-to-head record, having beaten Al Ahli 3-0 on December 5, last year. 'The Boss,' though lost the return leg 1-0 earlier this month.
But then, that is a tall order, perhaps, as tall as the Burj Khalifa. And considering the form that they are in, it should be an easy one for the Red Knights.
A draw would suffice when they welcome Bani Yas at the Rashid Stadium in Al Quasis, in the penultimate round on Friday night. And knowing their penchant for attacking football, a stalemate would the last thing on the minds of the champions-in-waiting.
Meanwhile, Al Ain, who virtually lost their hold on the League with that defeat against Al Ahli, will be looking to finish strongly while also keeping an eye on the AFC Champions League as well as the President's Cup.  'The Boss' are in contention to progress out of Group D and into the Round of 16 of the continental competition. The Garden City club host Uzbekistan's Nasaf in the return leg on May 3. They are also in the quarterfinals of the President's Cup, where they meet Al Wasl.
With all that in mind, coach Zlatko Dalic will rest some of his key players on their away trip to Fujairah on Thursday night.
"Fujairah are looking for a lifeline to stay in the League, and they don't have any other option but to win. From our side, we are still aiming to reach the 62-point mark by winning our last two League games," said Dalic. "But I will also use this opportunity to rest a number of important players ahead of next week's crucial AFC Champions League game against Nasaf of Uzbekistan, so as not to risk injury or fatigue," the Croatian added.
Apart from the top two, there is an intriguing tussle for third. Al Wahda currently hold on to that spot with 39 points but there are a host of chasers in Al Nasr, Al Shabab and Al Wasl, the latter two tied on 36 points. Al Nasr are two points behind Al Wahda on 37.
Al Wahda are away to relegation-threatened Al Sharjah, while Al Nasr too are on the road to already relegated Al Shaab. Al Shabab make the long road trip to the Western Region to face Al Dhafra, while Al Wasl are at home to Dibba.

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