Shabab Al Ahli boss Mahdi plans to win battle of attrition versus Al Wahda in Arabian Gulf League

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Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club boss Mahdi Ali before the Arabian Gulf League game at Al Wahda.

Shabab Al Ahli Dubai coach Mahdi Ali is hopeful his troops can win a battle of attrition against Al Wahda in the Arabian Gulf League.

Friday’s hosts at Zayed Sports City come into the match on the back of a draining midweek 3-2 loss to Qatar’s Al Duhail in the 2018 AFC Champions League. This competition has added to their commitments as challengers in the top flight and Arabian Gulf Cup – with both teams also set to meet in next month’s semi-finals.

“We hope to exploit the fatigue that our opponents will have accumulated as a result of the pressure matches in different tournaments,” said Ali, whose side sit a distant sixth

Meanwhile, Al Dhafra boss Gjoko Hadzievski has declared he wants to see proactive players take control of their destiny against Al Nasr.

The Western Knights won for the first time since September last-time out, versus Dibba Al Fujairah.

“The game against Al Nasr is so important to us,” said Hadzievski.

“The players must provide a strong reaction and not wait for the opponent’s reaction.”

Friday’s final game sees champions Al Jazira welcome lowly Hatta.

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Marcus Berg still has total belief in ACL prospects for Al Ain

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Al Ain players celebrate with Marcus Berg against Al Rayyan.

Sweden striker Marcus Berg’s confidence about winless Al Ain’s progression in the 2018 AFC Champions League remains bulletproof, despite seeing a hatful of chances go begging against Al Rayyan.

The Boss dominated their tenacious Qatari opponents for large spells on Tuesday night, but could only secure a 1-1 draw after first-half penalties were shared between Berg and Morocco striker Abderrazak Hamdallah. In particular, the former was guilty of putting in an uncharacteristically wasteful display to ensure a second-successive stalemate in Group D.

Could belief now be a problem for the 2002/03 winners, with four games left?

“No, no – not at all,” replied Berg, who has struck an impressive 16 times in 23 run-outs since June’s €3.3 million (Dh14.9m) move from Greece’s Panathinaikos. “We know we are a strong team and we know we can do better than we did in this game.

“But still, we have a good chance. It is not about goals, it is about the points we need to make it to the next round.

“I think we have a good chance to do it, but we need the three points.”

Berg, 31, has proven a superb addition for Al Ain. He has thus far excelled where Nigeria front man Emmanuel Emenike, Brazilian striker Douglas and Saudi Arabia loanee Nasser Al Shamrani flopped since July 2015’s sale of Ghana record breaker Asamoah Gyan.

Experience of the Europa League and UEFA Champions League had been gained during previous stints at Hamburg, PSV Eindhoven and Pana. He is now enjoying continental football in Asia.

Berg said: “It is a strong competition [the ACL].

“All the teams are competitive and try to win the games.

Al Ain next month face a vital double header against Iran’s Esteghlal, led by their ex-coach Winfried Schafer.

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Shabab Al Ahli v Al Wasl is highlight of Arabian Gulf Cup semi-final draw

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Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club and Al Wasl will meet again in Arabian Gulf Cup semi-finals (PLC).

Nominal holders Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club will meet city rivals Al Wasl and minnows Dibba Al Fujairah will face high-flying Al Wahda in next month’s Arabian Gulf Cup semi-finals.

The Pro League Committee carried out the draw on Tuesday for UAE football’s third most-important competition. An all-Dubai tie is sure to garner the most interest.

Al Ahli stormed to a 2-0 victory against Al Shabab in last year’s showpiece, before those two were merged with Dubai CSC in May to create the new outfit. Opponents Wasl are pushing for the Arabian Gulf League-title, but haven’t won silverware since 2010’s GCC Champions League.

Wahda are also in the mix for top-flight success. They will fancy their chances against Dibba, who have never lifted a major trophy.

The legs will be played on March 9 and 22.

AG CUP FIXTURES

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