Abu Dhabi: Group A and B teams will play crucial matches on Friday night to decide, to a great extent, on the possible semi-final line-up of the Etisalat Cup — even as national team players are away preparing for the qualifiers of the 2015 Asian Cup.
In Group A, Al Ain, the leaders with 14 points from six matches will face Al Nasr, third with 11 from the same number of matches, in a tough encounter as both teams vie for a win to reach the last four stage. Their match in the first round ended in a goalless tie but on Friday night, a draw will not help Al Nasr although it might be acceptable to Al Ain.
In the same group, Dubai Club, who have lost all hope of reaching the semifinals having collected only four points from six matches, will host Al Wahda (second with 13 points from seven matches).
Victory is a must for Al Wahda — who will play their last match in the preliminary round on Friday night — to take a seat in the second round at least as one of the best second-placed teams.
Al Jazira, leaders of Group B with 11 points from six matches, will host wooden-spooners Kalba with five points. They drew 2-2 in the first round.
Second placed Bani Yas, with 10 points, will host fourth placed Al Wasl (nine points from seven matches), in a must-win situation. A draw will, meanwhile, end the hopes of Al Wasl who are playing their last match in the first round.