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.
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Head coach Jurgen Streppel said his players can be proud of their efforts and felt Al Jazira should have won their clash against Shabab Al Ahli following their 0-0 draw in the Arabian Gulf League.
Al Jazira put on a spirited display in Thursday’s match at Mohammed bin Zayed stadium with Ali Mabkhout coming closest to breaking the deadlock when his free-kick hit the post against the Dubai-based outfit.
While the result leaves The Pride of Abu Dhabi in fourth position in the standings, Streppel was particularly pleased by how his players responded following last week’s defeat.
“Today I saw my team willing to fight for each other to get a victory,” said the Dutchman during the post-match press conference.
“We did not give up and wanted to win. We created good chances and were good on the counter-attack. Although we didn’t win the game, my players showed great spirit to try and win the game and should be proud of their efforts. We deserved to get all three points but we didn’t and that is part of football.”
Streppel admitted his side needs to be more clinical in front of goal if they want to claim maximum points.
“I am glad we created many opportunities but was unfortunately denied by a few centimetres today when Mabkhout hit the post. Having said that, we know we have to improve in front of goal. We will work on that in training and do our utmost best to turn it around.”
The match also saw Keno come off injured in the first-half. Streppel was disappointed to lose the Brazilian attacker who will undergo tests on Friday to determine the extent of the injury.
“We will see how serious it is after he goes for the tests,” he added. “Today he was very dangerous. If he kept on playing, he would have caused more problems for Shabab Al Ahli and I hope he will recover soon.”
Al Jazira head coach Jurgen Streppel declared his players are eager to make amends for last week’s defeat by beating Shabab Al Ahli on Thursday.
Al Jazira welcome the Arabian Gulf League leaders to Mohammed bin Zayed stadium with the hosts seeking to get back to winning ways after their closely-fought 3-2 derby loss to Al Wahda.
Streppel admits the whole squad was disappointed not to pick up points against their city rivals but has been impressed with their mentality on the training pitch this week.
“Our result against Al Wahda was not what we wanted and we want to make amends as soon as possible when we face Shabab Al Ahli,” said Streppel during the pre-match press conference.
“We want to get back to winning ways and we have full confidence that we can get a positive result.”
Al Jazira will face Shabab Al Ahli for the second time this season, having faced them in Arabian Gulf Cup in August.
Streppel insists their previous meeting will have no significance in Thursday’s clash but is wary of the threat of the Dubai-based outfit.
“We have played them before in the season which was a different game where we played with many youngsters. It will be different on Thursday since we will be playing with a number seniors,” he said.
“By working as a team, we will have to be at our best because Shabab Al Ahli have a good squad and are well organised in both offence and defence.”
Meanwhile, star striker Ali Mabkhout said the only objective they want to achieve is victory. “We know the quality of Shabab Al Ahli’s players but our main goal is to win the match,” said the UAE international. “We will be fully prepared and ready when the game begins.”