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Al Nasr become main threat to champions Al Ain

Zenga’s side show growing maturity during win over Al Wahda

Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
Al Jazira’s Juma Abdullah (in white) vies with Jocial Ferreira de Silva of Al Shabab as Eisa Obaidwatches the action during the Etisalat Pro-League match at home. Al Jazira won 2-1.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Reigning champions Al Ain continued their sole leadership of the Etisalat Pro-League thanks to a big 6-0 victory over Al Ittihad from Kalba, while Al Nasr jumped to second place during the eighth week of matches.

While Al Ain’s victory over lowly Kalba was expected, the players of Al Nasr proved they have matured tactically to dominate their mighty opponents Al Wahda with their zonal defence and counter-attacking style of play, which Italian coach Walter Zenga has been injecting into them since last year.

The results and performance of Al Nasr this season make the team serious contenders for the title, but the only problem might be their participation in the AFC Champions League, which might lead to exhaustion and fatigue because of the many strong matches they will play domestically and on continental level.

Al Jazira were another big winner this week, beating Al Shabab 2-1 to save their coach Paolo Bonamigo embarrassment. Bonamigo was the coach of Al Shabab for three years before shifting to Al Jazira at the end of last season, only one day after he signed a new contract with Al Shabab. His future at Al Jazira remains in serious doubt, however.

Their victory came courtesy of substitute Ahmad Juma, who scored an 87th minute winner within a minute of coming off the bench. Ali Al Ameri had earlier equalised Luiz da Silva’s first half opener for the visitors.

Al Shabab, one of the UAE’s representatives in the AFC CL this season, are placed 12th with only five points from eight matches, which means they have dropped a total of 19 points and are facing the threat of relegation. It is time for the club to start making changes, whether in their foreign or local players, technical staff, style of play or psychology of the players.

Dibba Fujairah, who are playing in the top competition for the first time in their history, made headlines after beating Al Wasl 2-1 for their debut victory in the Pro-League.

The differences between the two teams are vast — while Dibba have been playing all their history in the lower division, Al Wasl has never been relegated and have won the title seven times. Dibba do not have a stadium suitable for the top league and have been playing at Khalifa Stadium in Al Ain before shifting to Fujairah last week.

Elsewhere, Ajman beat Al Shaab to move a step away from the relegation zone, while Dubai continued collecting points after forcing Al Dhafra to settle for a 1-1 tie.