Dubai: Last year’s runners-up Shabab Al Ahli Dubai will host tricky opponents in Bani Yas in this weekend’s Round 11 highlight of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL).
Bani Yas struck the lone goal of the match with 10 minutes remaining to ensure full points against defending champions Sharjah last week. And this Saturday, the Sky Blues will be looking forward to a similar result against their hosts in Dubai.
Despite last week’s first loss in the AGL, Sharjah have maintained their position at the top with 23 points, but find that Al Jazira are very much within striking distance with a similar tally. Al Nasr, who went down 2-1 against Al Ain last week, are not far away with 20 points, while Bani Yas are in a credible fourth position with 19 followed by Al Ain (18), Kalba (17) and Al Dhafra (15).
Bani Yas have shown a rather inconsistent form so far this season. The club from Abu Dhabi started off strongly with wins in their first three games to lead the standings. But by Round 4 they came crashing down as Al Jazira handed out a 3-1 loss followed by dropped points against Ajman and two successive losses to Kalba and Al Nasr.
However, Bani Yas have managed to turn the corner in the last three rounds with convincing wins against Al Ain, Hatta and Sharjah last week to pick up all nine points and put themselves back on track.
Disappointed at the narrow loss last week, Sharjah coach Abdul Aziz Al Anbari is convinced his team has learnt its lessons.
“There’s nothing wrong with the level of our preparations. Each time we step out it is with the sole aim of winning maximum points. But last week we paid for our lack of finishing. They [Bani Yas] made one rare move and we paid for it with our first loss of the season,” Al Anbari said.
“Hatta may be at the bottom of the standings, but it won’t be an easy match. They have always shown a good level against us in the past and I am sure they will also be on the look out for all three points. I hope my players have learnt from last week and we manage to win all three points ourselves.”
In other interesting match-ups, Al Wasl will travel to Khor Fakkan, while Al Ain host Kalba, Al Nasr make the long trip to Al Dhafra and Ajman are on the road against Al Jazira.
Al Wahda v Fujairah, 6pm
Hatta v Sharjah, 6pm
Khor Fakkan v Al Wasl, 9pm
Al Ain v Kalba, 6pm
Al Dhafra v Al Nasr, 6pm
Al Jazira v Ajman, 9pm
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai v Bani Yas, 9pm