Unbeaten Sharjah are feeling the “pressure” after their stumbles towards a long-awaited Arabian Gulf League title success continued with a 2-2 draw versus bottom-placed Dibba Al Fujairah, according to boss Abdulaziz Al Anbari.
The King recorded their third top-flight draw on the spin when Moroccan midfielder Driss Fettouhi slotted in a 54th-minute penalty for Friday’s visitors to Khalid bin Mohammed Stadium. A bullet header from UAE centre-back Shaheen Abdulrahman and 18-goal Brazilian striker Welliton’s one-on-one finish had previously seen the hosts rebound from Diogo Acosta’s early opener.
Even amid this downturn, victory at mid-table Al Wasl next Saturday will guarantee the trophy for the first time since 1995/96 regardless of what second-placed Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club do at Al Nasr 24 hours prior.
“Thank God for the result,” said Al Anbari, whose troops are six points ahead with three games left. “We wished for the best, but we entered the game poorly and that did not help.
“I do not blame the players as the pressure on the team is very large.
“This match should be quickly forgotten and the focus must be put on upcoming matches, which will be difficult.
“It is possible that the team has been influenced by the talk from the street in terms of Sharjah settling the league. At the same time, the pressure on everyone is great and this is normal for a team that has not won the competition for many years.
“The final metres are always difficult and the players are making great efforts. I hope to be stronger and we all need to unite at this stage.”
Sharjah had belied their status as regular relegation battlers with a sensational start to 2018/19 that included seven wins and three draws in their opening 10 fixtures.
The likes of troubled holders Al Ain, youthful Al Jazira and improving Shabab Al Ahli have not been able to live with them.
Al Anbari selflessly took the blame for their recent stutters.
He said: “The team’s level of decline is mainly borne by the technical staff. I thank the players for their early season form.
“I am optimistic that the negative results will not continue and that the team is able to return to victories.”
No club in the decade-long professional era have ever gone undefeated before.
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