Al Jazira must hope a pair of UAE superstars finally stir into life for them in 2019/20 when they meet improving Al Wasl on Friday in round 10 of the Arabian Gulf League.
Right-back Mohammed Fawzi’s lashed finish on Sunday earned a tense 1-0 home win versus Fujairah in which the second-bottom visitors registered 50-per-cent more attempts (12/eight) than their star-studded hosts. These three points moved the Pride of Abu Dhabi up to fourth, yet they’ll need their fearsome arsenal to belatedly start firing at Zabeel Stadium to stand any chance of realising an ambition of claiming the title for the first time since 2016/17.
Marksman Ali Mabkhout – the UAE’s all-time record scorer – has just two strikes in nine top-flight matches this term, despite lashing home 11 times in six internationals during the same period. A homecoming for former Al Ain superstar Omar Abdulrahman, after an injury ravaged season in Saudi Arabia, has generated one goal and zero assists in nine AGL run-outs.
The 2016 AFC Player of the Year, however, sits fourth for chances created in the division (24) and has shown signs of returning to his best in recent weeks.
Unlocking the undoubted potential of these two will be top of ex-Ajax boss Marcel Keizer’s to-do list, upon his second stint at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. But opposite number Laurentiu Reghecampf has unquestionably begun to do this in the wake of a wretched start to the season.
The Cheetahs are unbeaten in five AGL matches, with Brazilians Welliton and Fabio De Lima back to their lethal best. The former has three goals in his last three outings, including a brace in the 3-1 win at Al Dhafra, while De Lima only needs one more goal to reach the landmark 100-figure after lashing home six times in as many AGL fixtures.
“Our positive results are like an investment and we must earn three new points from the meeting with Al Jazira,” said Reghecampf.
“The confrontation is difficult in light of the large number of absences, but we must not lose at this stage. I am sure that all the chosen players will be able to make the utmost effort to continue our march.”
A twin treat lies in store for supporters who make the trip to the Zabeel.
Fans in attendance who have bought tickets through platinumlist.net/arabian-gulf-league to three or more 2019/20 AGL games at the famous ground – a former home of Argentina icon Diego Maradona – will be eligible for the raffle to win a brand-new Audi A3.
This is one of 29 cars that will be distributed throughout the remainder of the campaign.
There will also be a dedicated Fan Zone at the stadium pre-match, boasting a range of fun activities.
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