Dubai: The Bur Dubai derby is expected to be the highlight in Round 16 of Arabian Gulf League (AGL) when neighbours Al Nasr and Al Wasl clash this weekend.
Fortunes seem to be fluctuating for two teams as hosts Al Nasr have the edge being among the early title challengers this season as they remain in fourth place and nine points adrift of leaders and defending champions Sharjah.
Al Wasl, on the other hand, are four points away from their opponents in eighth place. However, the Cheetahs have been showing signs of a resurgence with two back-to-back wins against Bani Yas and Hatta.
Al Nasr, who had started the competition on a strong note, have lost against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai and Al Jazira but managed to scrape past Khor Fakkan last week. However, they will be looking for full points in an attempt to keep up the pressure on Sharjah.
Sharjah, meanwhile, will be at home against Al Ain with the hope of full points and a further cushion at the top of the standings. The defending champions registered only their third draw this season when they were held 1-1 by Al Wahda at home last week.
Coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari called on his players to show the winning mentality against an Al Ain side that can take advantage of the smallest of errors. “Cent per cent focus is what we will need against a team like Al Ain,” Al Anbari cautioned at the pre-match conference.
“Al Ain is always considered as one of the teams competing for titles and we are right in expecting a tough encounter. We will treat them with respect and yet we will be going all out for the three points,” he added.
The coach further cautioned his players to be wary of survival threats that are bound to increase with every round of the competition. “When teams play the champions, it is always customary to expect an all-out approach. We are the champions and it is natural for all other teams to try and win against us. So we need to extra careful in these do-or-die matches,” he noted.
“We will be missing defender Ali Al Dhanhani due to suspension but we have enough bench strength to ensure we get the three points against a tough team like Al Ain,” he added.
Also in action on Saturday will be Shabab Al Ahli Dubai hosting Al Wahda, while Bani Yas will make the long trip to Khor Fakkan in the two early matches. Hatta will host Ajman and Sharjah will be at home against Al Ain in the two late encounters.
In Sunday’s matches, Kalba will host Al Jazira and Al Dhafra will play Fujairah in Fujairah. Al Wasl make the short trip across to neighbours Al Nasr in the late night derby.
February 13 (Saturday) : 5.30 pm Shabab Al Ahli Dubai vs Al Wahda; 5.30 pm: Khor Fakkan vs Bani Yas; 8.15 pm: Hatta vs Ajman; 8.15 pm: Sharjah vs Al Ain.
February 14: 5.30 pm: Kalba vs Al Jazira; 5.30 pm: Fujairah vs Al Dhafra; 8.15 pm: Al Nasr vs Al Wasl.