Dubai: Al Jazira will be looking at full points when they host Al Nasr in an attempt to keep up the pressure on defending champions and leaders Sharjah at the start of the second leg of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) this weekend.
Round 14 will have some interesting match-ups, but the one between Al Jazira and Al Nasr in the night derby on Friday will possibly determine the future course of the competition.
The ‘Pride of Abu Dhabi’ are in second with 27 points, just three above Al Nasr and that is what makes this one match an engrossing affair as full points would make a huge difference to both.
Sharjah have topped the midway stage of the AGL with 32 points, leaving Al Jazira in second with 27 points, while Bani Yas (26), Al Nasr (24) and Al Ain (23) make up the top-five positions.
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, Al Wahda and Kalba all have 19 points each in sixth, seventh and eighth places, while Al Wasl (17), Al Dhafra (16) and Khor Fakkan (14) occupy ninth, tenth and eleventh places leaving Fujairah (7), Ajman (6) and Hatta (2) with a mountain to climb and just 14 matches remaining in the league.
Earlier on Friday, Ajman will face Al Dhafra while cellar-placed Hatta will be up against Al Wahda.
Despite lurking around in a disappointing 13th position and within relegation zone, Ajman can afford to be hopeful especially after their 2-1 win – their first triumph so far this season - against Fujairah in Round 13 two weeks back.
That win saw the ‘Orange Brigade’ raise their tally to six points, but they still remain stuck in the second last position. But Ajman will have their 1-4 loss to amend against Al Dhafra that came in the opening week. On the other hand, Al Dhafra will be eyeing a return to winning ways after falling to two successive defeats and a draw in the past three weeks that leaves them in their current tenth place on 16 points.
In Saturday’s action, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai will be up against a resurgent Kalba and Khor Fakkan will host Al Ain in the two early matches, while Bani Yas will play Al Wasl and leaders Sharjah will host Fujairah later.
Hatta is the other team that has a huge uphill task as they take on Al Wahda. The hosts have remained winless after 13 rounds of AGL action and their two draws against Ajman in Round 3 and Kalba in Round 12, are also the only two points that they presently have.
Al Wahda, on the other hand, will be looking to continue the vein of form which saw them win 6-0 over Hatta in the first half of the season and reduce the gap with the top four.
(Friday) 5.30 pm Ajman vs Al Dhafra; 5.30 pm: Hatta vs Al Wahda; 8.15 pm: Al Jazira vs Al Nasr
(Saturday) 5.30 pm: Shabab Al Ahli Dubai vs Kalba; 5.30 pm; Khor Fakkan vs Al Ain; 8.15 pm: Bani Yas vs Al Wasl; 8.15 pm: Sharjah vs Fujairah.