Dubai: Al Ain will have their task cut out against a strong Al Jazira if they are to pose a serious challenge to current leaders Shabab Al Ahli Dubai in Round 19 of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) this weekend.
Al Ain will travel to Abu Dhabi for the fixture of the week on Saturday night - and full points there can keep the Boss abreast of current leaders Shabab Al Ahli Dubai. The latter lead the standings with 40 points following a 2-2 draw against cross-city opponents Al Nasr last weekend.
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, meanwhile, will be all out to keep their position at the top as Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s boys travel to Ajman on Friday. Either full points or a draw will help them stay clear of second-placed Al Ain (37 points), while the week’s finale can also decide a lot as far as the fight for second place between Al Ain and Al Jazira (33).
Al Wahda (32) have temporarily displaced last year’s champions Sharjah (equal on 32 points) and The Clarets will be focused on all three points to keep up the pressure on the top three as they travel to neighbouring Al Dhafra in the early match on Saturday.
With the influential Igor Coronado out of action, Sharjah have struggled to match last season’s performances and will look to make the most of their trip to bottom-placed Fujairah.
In other matches, relegation threatened Hatta (13) will host eighth-placed Al Wasl (26), while Al Nasr will host third from last Khor Fakkan (15) on Friday, while eleventh-placed Kalba will travel to Abu Dhabi to take on ninth-placed Bani Yas (20).
Meanwhile, the UAE Pro League has announced date changes for the remainder of the AGL following the precautionary measures put in place by Fifa and the AFC in view of the Coronavirus threat. The governing bodies for world and Asian football had the previous day postponed Matchday Four and Five of the 2020 AFC Champions League and the 2020 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers previously scheduled for March and June.
With the international fixtures now postponed, the UAE Pro League has affected changes to the AGL with Matchweek 20 now scheduled to take place on March 19-20, followed by Matchweek 21 on April 3-4, Matchweek 22 on April 9-10, and Matchweek 23 taking place on April 16-17.
The statement from the UAE Pro League also said that dates for the last three rounds of the AGL will be confirmed based on the position of teams competing for the title this season.
(March 13) 5.45 pm: Hatta vs Al Wasl; 5.45 Ajman vs Shabab Al Ahli Dubai; 8.30 Al Nasr vs Khor Fakkan.
(March 14) 5.45: Al Dhafra vs Al Wahda; 5.45 Fujairah vs Sharjah; 5.45 Bani Yas vs Kalba; 8.30 Al Jazira vs Al Ain.