Round 6 of the 2019/20 Arabian Gulf League delivered several stellar displays, at both ends of the table.
A gripping draw between 10-man Al Ain and Al Jazira – played out in front of a sell-out crowd at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium – delivered plentiful drama, despite the lack of goals. Alvaro Negredo’s penalty for Al Nasr inflicted a fourth defeat on promoted Khor Fakkan, Manolo Jimenez’s Al Wahda revolution rolled on with a 3-1 victory against Al Dhafra and Al Wasl’s upturn continued with a 3-1 victory against Hatta.
Here are Sport360°’s top picks and a talking point:
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Mohanad Salem (Al Ain)
A change of guard has been under way for the past year at Al Ain.
The backs-to-the-wall, 0-0 stalemate with Jazira, however, proved there is life in their dogs of war yet. Salem, 34, was a rock after the 13th-minute dismissal of centre-back usurper Mohammed Ali Shakir, ensuring Jazira’s star-studded attack could not strike.
GOAL OF THE WEEK
Ali Salmeen (Al Wasl)
Hands up who thought UAE and Wasl anchor man Salmeen was capable of such a dynamic solo goal?
Think George Weah v Hellas Verona and – ex-Wasl boss – Diego Maradona v England, then slightly temper expectations. You’ll conjure the image of Salmeen blazing past several opponents from halfway, before firing home to seal a 3-1 win against Hatta.
COACH OF THE WEEK
Manolo Jimenez (Al Wahda)
Jimenez’s Wahda are going to be a lot of fun, judging by their early results.
The 3-1 triumph against Al Dhafra made it seven goals in two, winning matches under the ex-Sevilla, AEK Athens and Al Rayyan supremo. A brace for summer-buy – and fellow Spaniard – Carlitos also augers well for the future.
IF YOU BUILD IT UP, THEY WILL COME
More than 20,000 people were present for an enthralling ‘El Clasico’ that proved interest in the AGL is there, if appropriately tapped into.
Superb social media channels, expanded English commentary and raffle prizes evidence organisers, UAE Pro League, are doing their bit. They cannot, however, control the on-field product.
Jazira and Al Ain offered elite footballers and a strong narrative. The other clubs must utilise their resources just as efficaciously to make this gala night a more frequent sight.
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