Dubai: Defending champions Sharjah will be hoping to return with full points from Hatta as Round Five of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) this weekend.
The King have had the best run by defending champions — winning all four matches so far for a maximum 12 points. Last week, they further endorsed themselves as hot favourites with a systematic 5-1 mauling of Al Wasl at their Al Zabeel ground.
The man of the hour, once again, was Sharjah’s Brazilian star Igor Coronado with two goals and an assist as teammates Ryan Mendes, Ricardo Gomes and substitute Marcus Vinicius added one each. For the home side, hard-working Fabio de Lima pulled one back with 10 minutes remaining.
Despite such a result, Sharjah coach Abdul Aziz Al Anbari is refusing to get carried away with his team of champions. No doubt, he’s got some injuries to key players Majid Surour and Saif Rashid, but their absence will be more than accounted for by a strong substitutes’ bench.
“It’s a very short period for preparing the team from the last round to this one. But we hope we can have everyone on the list to play a good brand of attacking football,” Al Anbari told media at the prematch conference on Tuesday.
“Hatta is not going to be easy as they play a brand of football that believes in possession, and that can be quite frustrating for any team. But the ultimate aim will be to play to our strengths and return from Hatta with maximum points to keep our position at the top,” he added.
“There is no such thing as an easy match in the league any more. Every team is capable of an upset, more so because we are the champions. We will be at our best, no doubt.”
Ajman will host Al Wahda in the early match on Thursday, while Al Nasr’s Al Maktoum stadium will entertain cross-city rivals Shabab Al Ahli Dubai in the late night match after Fujairah host Al Ain and debutants Khor Fakkan travel to Bani Yas earlier on Friday.
In the last two matches to be played on Sunday, Al Wasl will try and get past last week’s hammering as they make the long journey to Al Dhafrah, while Al Jazira will play Kalba in the late night encounter in Abu Dhabi.
Ajman v Al Wahda, 6.15pm
Hatta v Sharjah, 9pm
Fujairah v Al Ain
6.15 Bani Yas v Khor Fakkan, 6.15pm
Al Nasr v Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, 9pm
Al Dhafrah v Al Wasl, 6.15pm
Al Jazira v Kalba, 9pm