Sport | Football

Never-say-die spirit helps Al Ain keep stronghold on title race

Coach Olaroiu deserves the credit for building a strong squad

  • By Yasir Abbasher, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 February 17, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
  • Ahmad Khamis, Achille Emana of Al Ahli and Esam Dhahi and Walid Abbas of Al Shabab in action during the Etisalat Pro League match at Al Ahli Club in Dubai on Monday. Al Shabab won the clash 3-2.

Abu Dhabi: Everyone seems to be doing Al Ain favours, but more importantly Al Ain are doing the business themselves as they continue to lead the standings of the Etisalat Pro League as they look to win a record tenth title.

Both Al Nasr in second place and reigning champions Al Jazira, who are in third, lost valuable points this week to help Al Ain increase their lead to five points with 33 from 14 matches.

Al Shabab, who returned to winning ways when they beat traditional rivals Al Ahli, are nine points behind and need a miracle to compete for the title, especially as they start their campaign in the preliminary round of the AFC Champions League tomorrow.

The new factor in Al Ain this season is not only their high-quality foreign professionals such as Asamoah Gyan, Yasir Qahtani, Mirel Radoi and Ignacio Scocco, but also the new spirit of the young local players who have shown the right approach in all their matches and have given a character to their team that scares opponents.

Credit should be given to Cosmin Olaroiu, the team's head coach, for his hard work in building a squad that ensures players have to perform consistently if they are to stay in the team.

Golden chance

Al Nasr, Al Jazira and Al Shabab now have a month to iron out the flaws in their teams before the competition resumes.

Al Wasl lost a golden chance to close on the top teams when they lost 4-2 at home to Ajman to stay with only 21 points, 12 adrift of the leaders.

Ajman, who are in their first season in the Pro League following promotion, are continuing their brilliant results which have left them eighth with 18 points, eight above the relegation zone.

The battle for survival is also getting tougher, with Sharjah being directly involved after failing to win a single match since December 11, when they beat Al Shabab for only their second victory this season. The irony is that they were led to that win by Valeriu Tita, but the club then terminated his contract and brought in Brazilian Jorvan Veiera, who failed to win any matches before the club also sacked him and reappointed Tita.

Emirates are showing good form and have moved from the bottom to tenth place in style with their new coach, Lutfi Al Banzarti, and new striker Modibo Diarra impressing, but Dubai have failed to reverse their fortunes and have retreated to the last spot.

There are still eight matches to go for all the clubs to achieve their goals, but that all depends on how they will use this month of stoppage.

Results and standings


Al Ahli 2 Al Shabab 3

Sharjah 1 Emirates 1

Al Wahda 1 Al Nasr 1

Dubai 0 Al Ain 2

Bani Yas 2 Al Jazira 1

Al Wasl 2 Ajman 4

Standings

Team P W D L GF GA Pts

1 Al Ain 14 10 3 1 29 11 33

2 Al Nasr 14 8 4 2 28 18 28

3 Al Jazira 14 8 2 4 38 23 26

4 Al Shabab 14 6 6 2 23 15 24

5 Al Wasl 16 6 3 5 21 20 21

6 Al Wahda 14 4 7 3 18 18 19

7 Ajman 14 5 3 6 21 22 18

8 Al Ahli 14 5 2 7 19 26 17

9 Bani Yas 14 4 4 6 21 23 16

10 Emirates 14 3 2 9 17 34 11

11 Sharjah 14 2 4 8 17 30 10

12 Dubai 14 1 4 9 16 28 7

Gulf News
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