Sharjah and Al Ain lead the way in the Arabian Gulf League after round 12 of action – with both teams picking up wins while title rivals slipped.
Al Jazira fell to Al Dhafra in a surprise defeat against the relegation-threatened Western Knights, while 10-man Shabab Al Ahli were thrashed 3-0 by Bani Yas.
Here are our Picks of the Week from round 12:
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Romulo dos Santos (Al Dhafra)
Whoever this award went to this week, it would have been an Al Dhafra player. There were two hat-trick heroes in their impressive win over Al Jazira – Brazilian striker Romulo and assist king Humeid Abdulla, who teed up his team-mate for all three of his goals.
We have to give it to the man putting the ball in the back of the net though, simply because of his perfect treble – left foot, header, right foot. He pounced on a defensive shambles to open the scoring, his second was a glorious glancing header and his third wrapped up the points.
COACH OF THE WEEK
Krunoslav Jurcic (Bani Yas)
The Sky Blues are an odd commodity this term. In truth not much was expected after bouncing straight back to the big time following relegation in 2016/17. But along with fellow promoted sides Ittihad Kalba and Fujairah, they’ve impressed immensely.
They’ve only won three times but have only lost three in 12 games, with six draws. This commanding victory over title-chasing Shabab Al Ahli – albeit they led 1-0 when the visitors had Henrique Luvannor sent off – is another fillip for them and their Croatian coach, who move up to eighth.
GOAL OF THE WEEK
Marquinhos (Al Nasr)
Not a stellar week for great goalscoring in the AGL, although the Brazilian’s strike was the pick of them. It wouldn’t have immediately transpired that this would have been a goal of the week contender had you watched the build-up, but it was finished in style.
Scrappy defending from the Wolves seemed to have stemmed the Blue Wave tide, but when a half-hearted clearance fell at the feet of No31 on the edge of the box, he composed himself before rifling an unstoppable shot into the top corner of Abdualla Al Tamim’s net.
Promotion sides purring
We should all marvel at the stupendous seasons being enjoyed by the three promoted sides, all of whom are making a mockery of their tags as underdogs coming into the 2018/19 campaign.
When you emerge from the second tier into the top-flight, your arrival is rightly met with scepticism. But Bani Yas, Ittihad Kalba and Fujairah are more than holding their own, the Sky Blues and Wolves earning three wins apiece and the Tigers clawing their way to four wins from 12 games.
Could it actually be possible for all three to stay up? Who knows, but with Kalba seventh, Bani eighth and Fujairah 11th – with just three points separating them – only a fool would back against the trio.
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