Tuesday’s impassioned Bur Dubai derby between Al Wasl and Al Nasr will dominate match-week 14 in the Arabian Gulf League.
A large crowd is expected at Zabeel Stadium on Tuesday (20:00) to witness the 90th top-flight clash between the neighbours. September’s tense season opener saw a goalless draw played out at Al Maktoum Stadium.
The mid-week visitors were crowned Arabian Gulf Cup champions earlier this month, but are reeling from Thursday’s momentum-sapping 1-0 loss to lowly Bani Yas which dropped them to sixth from third. Laurentiu Reghecampf’s Cheetahs, meanwhile, made it three AGL wins in a row when Ittihad Kalba were swatted aside 2-0.
“During my career, I played a large number of derby games,” said the Blue Wave’s star striker, Alvaro Negredo. “We are required to focus well and provide everything we have in this match in order to harvest three points.
“The responsibility of the last loss lies with us as players, and I hope that there will be an awakening from all the players in the team, to appear better and return to the path of victories starting from the Wasl match.”
Meanwhile, champions Sharjah require a firm response from devastating defeat to leaders Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club when they meet winless Khor Fakkan on Wednesday.
An identikit-brace from Cape Verde winger Ryan Mendes looked to have put the King on the cusp of a decisive 2-1 victory on Friday, only for 2015 AFC Player of the Year Ahmed Khalil to twice hold his nerve from the penalty spot. This 3-2 victory has opened up an eight-point gap at the top, though boss Abdulaziz Al Anbari remains upbeat.
He said: “We congratulate the team on their efforts and congratulate our players on the performance. Good luck to Sharjah
“Our misfortune made us receive a goal from the penalty spot after the dismissal [of midfielder Mohammed Abdulbasit].
“The second penalty kick and [new signing] Caio’s exit made it difficult for us. Until the 75th minute, we made a good match.
“Shabab Al Ahli is currently the best team in the league. But there is a full opportunity for us, Al Ain and Al Jazira in the competition.”
Sharjah have now only won once in their last six top-flight matches. Their bottom-placed opponents should hand a debut to former Vegalta Sendai-striker Ramon Lopes.
Elsewhere, Al Dhafra will feel confident of springing another upset when they welcome out-of-sorts Al Jazira.
The Western Knights have won their last four games, while star-studded Jazira could only draw 1-1 at promoted Ajman last week.
Al Wahda may have Almeria winger Gaspar in their ranks when relegation-threatened Fujairah come to Abu Dhabi, pacesetters Shabab Al Ahli should swat aside second-bottom Hatta and Ajman v Bani Yas provides an opportunity for both clubs to gain some breathing space to the drop zone.
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