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Al Nasr block Al Ain path to glory

The Boss will be looking at a record 13th title in Arabian Gulf League this weekend

Image Credit: AFP
Al Ain FC’s Omar Abdul Rahman in action againstAl Rayyan SC during their ACL match on Monday.
Gulf News

Dubai: Only third-placed Al Nasr stand in the way of a record 13th title as Al Ain embark on the penultimate round of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) this weekend.

After 20 rounds of the competition, Al Ain have all but wrapped up the AGL title with 47 points at the summit. But with Al Wahda in second with 43 points, The Boss cannot afford to slip up against Al Nasr, who are on an unbeaten run of six straight wins and a draw under new manager Ivan Jovanovic. A win on Saturday in Dubai will hand the AGL crown to Al Ain, who are keen to mark a memorable golden jubilee this year.

“This [President’s Cup] is no ordinary tournament. It carries the name of our President and we need to give it the utmost importance.””Tweet this

Al Ain are keen on settling the AGL race soon for a couple of other reasons. One definitely, is their President’s Cup semi-final against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai on April 25, while the knockout stages of the Asian Champions League will also demand their full attention.

Shabab Al Ahli Dubai coach Mahdi Ali did not mince words when he admitted that next week’s President’s Cup is one of the most important, if not the most important assignments before both teams. The Al Ghusais-based club will play Al Ain, while Al Wasl will be up against defending champions Al Wahda in the two semi-finals of the President’s Cup on April 25.

“This [President’s Cup] is no ordinary tournament. It carries the name of our President and we need to give it the utmost importance,” Ali told media on Wednesday.

“Secondly, it has been a disappointing season so far for a big club like Shabab Al Ahli Dubai. But we have tried to make amends while reaching the semi-finals of the Arabian Gulf Cup and now we have a second semi-final against Al Ain,” he added.

But for the time-being, Ali will have to pay attention to this weekend’s penultimate round of the AGL. “I would look at the next two matches as one. In the first one I could use some young players while resting the regulars so that they can act as an option for me in the next match against Al Ain,” the coach observed.

“There is absolutely no doubt that the President’s Cup game is more important than the AGL match against Al Dhafra. But once again, it will be one step at a time for me,” he added.

In other matches, 10th-placed Dibba will be looking to confine Emirates Club to the relegation zone, while ninth-placed Al Dhafra will be looking for full points when they host Shabab Al Ahli Dubai and Al Wasl will ensure bottom club Hatta slips back into Division Two for next season.

In Saturday’s action, second-placed Al Wahda will host eighth-placed Ajman, while Al Nasr will be keen to keep their winning momentum while keeping Al Ain waiting for a record 13th crown for one more week. In the week’s derby, Al Jazira will host Sharjah in Abu Dhabi.

FIXTURES

(6pm unless stated)

Friday

Dibba v Emirates, Al Dhafra v Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, Al Wasl v Hatta

Saturday

Al Wahda v Ajman, Al Nasr v Al Ain, Al Jazira v Sharjah, 8.30pm

 

Fact Box

Today

(6pm unless stated)

Dibba v Emirates, Al Dhafra v Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, Al Wasl v Hatta

Tomorrow

Al Wahda v Ajman, Al Nasr v Al Ain, Al Jazira v Sharjah, 8.30pm

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