Round 1 of the 2019/20 Arabian Gulf League delivered several stellar displays, at both ends of the table.
There was a surprise hero for title-chasers Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club when they dispatched minnows Hatta, while a famous face enjoyed a vitalising start to management on the east coast when Fujairah down Al Wahda 1-0.
Here are Sport360°’s top picks and a talking point:
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Yousif Jaber (Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club)
Statistical anomalies defined an unforgettable 3-0 win for Jaber at promoted Hatta.
The versatile defender now has the record for most club appearances in UAE football since 2008/09’s dawn of professionalism. It is highly unlikely in any of the previous 274 that he got two assists and a goal.
GOAL OF THE WEEK
Fawaz Awana (Bani Yas)
Awana exhibited the deftest of right-footed shots to get the scoring under way for the hosts in Thursday’s entertaining 2-2 draw with Ajman.
Awana, on loan to Al Wahda earlier this summer for Asian duty, was a picture of perfect technique when he drove onto a cut-back and curled into the far-left corner.
COACH OF THE WEEK
Madjid Bougherra (Fujairah)
What a start to the Algeria and Rangers legend’s senior managerial career in the league.
Hotly tipped Al Wahda were downed 1-0 thanks to a move in which an advancing left-back caused chaos.
There was also the exceptionally bold decision to hook midfielder Fernando Gabriel upon 55 minutes. Big calls – and a big opening result.
Changing face of UAE football
This term’s Under-21 registration loophole had a clear and telling impact.
A total of 15 non-Emirati kids started or came on. Only a handful met last season’s requirement of having a UAE-national mother.
Is this barefaced opportunism from the clubs that will severely hamper Emirati opportunities going forward, or will the UAE gain, hugely, in the long term through naturalisation? We shall see…
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