Round 3 of the 2019/20 Arabian Gulf League delivered several stellar displays, at both ends of the table.
Champions Sharjah earned a dramatic 3-2 victory against Al Ain thanks to another dose of Igor Coronado magic, while Ajman’s outstanding start continued with a 1-0 win at floundering Al Wasl. An acrobatic strike from Abdullah Al Seiari also earned promoted Hatta an opening win of the season, to the detriment of Ittihad Kalba.
Here are Sport360°’s top picks and a talking point:
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Igor Coronado (Sharjah)
Fresh superlatives run in short supply when the Brazilian playmaker is involved.
The reigning Foreign Player of the Year ran rings around Al Ain in a valuable 3-2 win – literally speaking on his way to forcing a fine first-half save. His penalty was expertly dispatched and the first-time hit from 20 yards that made it 2-2 utterly divine.
GOAL OF THE WEEK
Abdullah Al Seiari (Hatta)
A moment of genuine inspiration earned promoted Hatta a first three points of the campaign.
There seemed little on when Mahmood Qassim lopped a hopeful cross in. But Al Seiari wheeled off the last man and struck a stupendous bicycle kick to inflict a 1-0 defeat on managerless Ittihad Kalba.
COACH OF THE WEEK
Ayman El Ramady (Ajman)
These are historic times for the Orange Brigade.
A return of seven points from three matches is their best-ever start in the top flight – and El Ramady, in his fourth season, has engineered it.
Added value came from late summer addition Bubacarr Trawally lashing the only goal into the bottom corner against awful Al Wasl.
JAZIRA SHOW THEIR METTLE
A flood of goals were expected when title pretenders Al Jazira and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club met.
That a goalless draw followed actually spoke volumes about the host’s improved hopes this term. They had conceded a punishing 41 times in 26 top-flight games last term, draining points away after a vibrant start to finish fifth.
Serbia centre-back Milos Kosanovic already resembles the division’s smartest signing of the summer, while youngsters Mohammed Al Attas and Khalifa Al Hammadi have matured nicely. These players are perfect compliments to a vibrant attack.
Ajman made the biggest splashes on a quiet summer transfer deadline day in the Arabian Gulf League with their captures of forwards Bubacarr Trawally and Rashed Al Hajri.
Trawally, 24, joined the Orange Brigade after a short spell at Al Shabab included three goals in 11 Saudi Professional League run-outs. The Gambian replacement for unconvincing Nigerian forward Godwin Mensha had emerged as a talent of some repute after he scored 37 times in 83 Chinese Super League matches for Yanbian Funde and Guizhou Zhicheng from 2016-18.
Al Hajri, also 24, will be aiming to kick-start a once-promising career that stalled badly at Al Wasl. He made only one top-flight appearance in three seasons at Zabeel Stadium upon arrival from – now defunct – Al Shaab.
Elsewhere, promoted Khor Fakkan ditched Brazilian striker Pedro Junior, 32, from their four-player foreign quota and drafted in Uzbekistan international Temurkhuja Abdukholiqov, 28, from Lokomotiv Tashkent. In the domestic market, Bani Yas have wrestled 22-year-old forward Mohammed Al Hammadi from neighbours Al Wahda.
Junior had failed to find the back of the net in two AGL starts this term. Worries about a lack of goals from the Eagles saw them land a striker who also featured for Croatia’s Hadjuk Split and Qatar’s Al Sailiya.
Statistics released by the UAE Football Associations showed that 640 transfers, in the various categories for AGL and First Division League-outfits, were made from July 9-September 30. The 2020 winter transfer window will open on January 7 and close on February 3.
Round 2 of the 2019/20 Arabian Gulf League delivered several stellar displays.
Brazilian playmaker Igor Coronado was at the heart of things when Sharjah kept up their 100-per-cent start away at floundering Ittihad Kalba, while Ivan Leko’s Al Ain struck three times, once again, in their emphatic win at Al Wasl. There was also an early goal-of-the-season contender from UAE midfielder Amer Abdulrahman in Al Jazira’s 3-2 derby loss at Al Wahda.
Here are Sport360°’s top picks and a talking point:
PLAYER OF THE WEEK – IGOR CORONADO (SHARJAH)
Some footballers operate on a different plane.
Coronado ran 30 yards, straight through a stacked Ittihad Kalba defence, to tee up Ricardo Gomes’ opener in a 3-1 win. This was a third assist in two AGL games.
Then came a thunderous 25-yard free-kick to send champions Sharjah on their way.
GOAL OF THE WEEK – AMER ABDULRAHMAN (AL JAZIRA)
It is a crime that a goal of this undeniable quality was rendered utterly inconsequential.
UAE midfielder Amer Abdulrahman produced one of the best volleys you’ll see this term, connecting perfectly with a looped clearance. Al Jazira, however, could not build on this staggering opener and lost 3-2 at Al Wahda.
COACH OF THE WEEK – IVAN LEKO (AL AIN)
After the chaos of the opening Kalba win, came the ominous control of the 3-1 victory at Al Wasl.
Al Ain had to fight back from going behind. But from there, Leko orchestrated a fine display.
His call to bring on goal-scorer Bandar Al Ahbabi was also inspired.
AMOORY’S WAITING GAME
Expectation levels are raised whenever Omar Abdulrahman is involved.
On the early evidence of 2019/20, however, these must be tempered.
Monday’s indifferent first start in almost a year after serious injury went without incident in the Arab Club Champions Cup. In Friday’s 3-2 derby defeat at Al Wahda, Al Jazira’s celebrated second-half substitute had just over 30 touches and did nothing with them.
We expect the world from Amoory. Now, what he most requires is patience.