All set for the Sharjah-Al Shaab clash
The 12th round of the Arabian Gulf League is highlighted with the long awaited derby featuring Sharjah against Al Shaab as the UAE’s premier football competition approaches its halfway stage over the weekend.
Both sides have suffered relegation and managed to recapture their pro-league status at different times. Ironically, Sharjah beat Al Shaab 1-0 in the four-side playoff but Al Shaab were promoted to the pro-league and Sharjah were relegated to the lower level after three games. Four years ago, the two sides met in the former first division national league and Al Shaab won 1-0. Currently, Sharjah, who were promoted this season, are fifth in the standings on goals difference behind Al Nasr and Al Jazira on 19 points and seven points off the pace. Meanwhile, there’s no doubt that Al Ahli will continue to show the way. The Red Knights have successfully extended their lead to four points ahead of runners-up Al Shabab.
However, Al Ahli will face a relatively easy encounter against hosts Ajman at the Rashid bin Saeed Stadium in the neighbouring emirate. Ajman are at the bottom of the standings with just seven points from 11 starts. The club’s management and players are well aware that unless they improve, they will need a miracle to maintain their pro-league status. And for this reason, Al Ahli’s away mission could get complicated.
In another clash on Thursday, Dubai entertain Al Wahda in a crucial tie following their unfortunate 1-2 defeat at the hands of Al Shaab last time. On Friday, Al Wasl host Bani Yas at the Zabeel Stadium. With both sides having ended up on the wrong end of 2-1 scorelines in the last round, they need to bounce back in their last outings of the current year.
The first of Friday’s late games will have ornithological theme! The Hawks of Al Shabab host the Falcons of Emirates at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium. Marcos Paqueta’s men have given a good account of themselves so far this season, and they will hope to immediately get back to winning ways following last week’s defeat at the home of the League leaders Al Ahli.
Emirates, meanwhile, recorded a good 2-1 win over Al Wasl in their last outing, with new head coach Paulo Comelli hoping to turn fortunes around for the Ras Al Khaimah team. Concluding the round, and the Arabian Gulf League action for 2013, will be Al Jazira. They will welcome Al Ain to the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium as the Pride of Abu Dhabi take on The Boss. Walter Zenga’s side find themselves 4th in the league — two places and one point ahead of Quique Flores’ men — and they will hope to stay above their opponents with a home victory to end a turbulent 2013 on a high note.