Abu Dhabi: Sharjah goalkeeper Adel Al Hosani may have had to play out of his skin to ensure his side a goalless draw against Ajman at Rashid Bin Saeed Stadium and it looks like the Kings are well on course to run away with the Arabian Gulf League title this season.
With seven more rounds remaining, the chasing pack not only have plenty to make amends but also have to hope that Sharjah sees an unlikely dramatic downward spiral.
The nine-point edge over second-placed Shabab Al Ahli and Al Ain going into the round of 20 is a healthy cousin. And with the way the season has panned for Sharjah, it looks likely that they will take the foot off the pedal. This might have been their fifth draw this season but the side has been outstanding as they are yet to lose a match.
Sharjah, who had won the inaugural league in 1973-74, had last won the title way back in 1995-1996 season and is now very much in line to end their 24-year long title drought; which will also be Abdul Aziz Al Anbari side’s sixth league title.
In Saturday’s contest, Sharjah had a good share of the ball in the first half but failed to threaten the Orange brigade. The closest of the chances came for Ajman came early, when Stanley Nka unleashed a power-packed effort only to be kept out by Al Hosani.
After the change of ends, Ajman’s Mame Thiam sent in a well-directed header from close-range but Al Hosani was equally up for the challenge. The latter also denied an attempt in the injury time by Hussain Abdul Rahman to keep a clean sheet. They will be now meeting Bani Yas, who defeated Emirates 3-2 and are currently fifth in the standing, in the round of 20.
Second-placed Shabab Al Ahli has also done well to leapfrog into the second spot after registering three successive wins following their 2-0 loss to Sharjah in round of 16.
Al Jazira’s telling performance against Al Ain has allowed them to occupy the fourth spot with 37 points. Though there were plenty of pluses from that contest, including Ali Mabkhout reaching the milestone of equalling former UAE captain Mohammad Omar’s goalscoring record of 132 goals in the UAE league, it will be more about where they finish on the table from now on.
Arabian Gulf League
TEAM P W D L PTS
1. Sharjah 19 14 5 0 47
2. Shabab Al Ahli 19 12 2 5 38
3. Al Ain 19 12 2 5 38
4. Al Jazira 19 11 4 4 37
5. Bani Yas 19 9 6 4 33
6. Al Wahda 19 9 4 6 31
7. Al Dhafra 19 7 3 9 24
8. Ajman 19 6 6 7 24
9. Al Wasl 19 7 2 10 23
10. Kalba 19 5 6 8 21
11. Al Nasr 19 5 5 9 20
12. Fujairah 19 3 5 11 14
13. Emirates 19 2 6 11 12
14. Dibba 19 2 2 15 8