Marcel Keizer’s second reign at Al Jazira got off to a winning start, champions Sharjah were sumptuous as they maintained the only 100 per cent record of the new season, while the Beast was monstrous as Al Nasr finally won.
Here’s our take on the weekend’s action from the Arabian Gulf League’s fourth round of action.
THE MIDAS DUTCH
Marcel Keizer 2.0. Jazira’s latest managerial experiment got off to a winning start with the returning Dutchman leading an incredibly young side to an easy 3-1 victory over promoted Khorfakkan.
In truth, the sacking of compatriot Jurgen Streppel was harsh. It is often the case in a sport that mirrors the transient nature of the country itself. But Streppel’s dismissal seemed extreme considering Jazira’s opening three fixtures were a 2-0 win against Al Dhafra, a 3-2 defeat to Al Wahda and a 0-0 draw against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club – one of the title favourites.
But when the Pride of Abu Dhabi hierarchy made their decision, former charge Keizer was available, and everyone concerned will have been satisfied by what they saw. Keizer’s mentor Henk ten Cate would have been especially pleased with the club’s thriving academy at the heart of all three goals.
Khalifa Al Hammadi, at 20 already a full UAE international, opened the scoring, with Ali Mabkhout making it 2-0, the lethal marksman supplied by Zayed Al Ameri, 22. Egypt-born midfielder Abdullah Ramadan, 21, restored their two-goal cushion after Dodo pulled one back for the home side; he was set up by 18-year-old substitute Ahmed Mahmoud.
With Keizer back at the controls, the Jazira machine is being powered by a wave of exciting, impactful local talent.
HARD TO STOMACH
صور ||مباراة شباب الاهلي 2 و بني ياس 0 - دوري الخليج العربي pic.twitter.com/jPNLkAnKu4— نادي شباب الأهلي (@Shabab_AlAhliFC) October 19, 2019
There was a good reason for getting rid of Leonardo, the undoubtedly brilliant Brazilian who had left a bitter taste in the mouth by the end of his tenure with Al Wahda.
But the decision to jettison the problematic forward might be tinged with regret judging by the contrasting fortunes for his former and current employers over the weekend.
While the Clarets were left crestfallen following a 3-1 defeat at the hands of an Alvaro Negredo-inspired Al Nasr – the Blue Wave earning a maiden win of the season – Leonardo was painting a masterpiece at his new club, Shabab Al Ahli.
Leonardo had become a nauseating problem the higher-ups at Al Nahyan Stadium could no longer stomach. Those at Rashid Stadium are finding a player much more palatable, the 27-year-old dishing up both goals in a 2-0 triumph over Bani Yas. He scored the first and supplied the second for Davide Mariani.
It’s a feast at the top of the table for Shabab, but famine for Wahda who are feeding off scraps near the bottom.
WASL ARE WALLOWING
Rodolfo Arruabarrena led Al Wasl to third place two seasons ago, but was then sacked following a poor start in 2018/19. After a brief spell in Qatar with Al Rayyan he returned to the UAE when the Shabab Al Ahli job became available.
He led them to the President’s Cup and Arabian Gulf Cup double, while replacement Laurentiu Reghecampf has led the Cheetahs to the bottom of the AGL table after four games.
Wasl were woeful on Saturday night during a meek 5-1 defeat by champions Sharjah, which was emphatic as the scoreline suggests.
How Wasl fans must wish they could turn the clocks back. It is now surely a question of when, not if, the club calls time on Reghecampf’s reign.
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