Uzbekistan winger Dostonbek Khamdamov could be thrust straight into a heated derby when new employers Al Nasr aim to extend Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club’s disappointing season.
Match-week 13’s standout fixture in the Arabian Gulf League pits third-placed visitors up against hosts who’ve descended from 2019/20’s pacesetters to a side who sit a dreary eighth – and are winless in five top-flight matches.
The Blue Wave ranks have also been bolstered at the halfway stage by the exciting arrival of 19-cap international Khamdamov from Pakhtakor, replacing Curacao’s Brandley Kuwas in their four-player foreign quota. The ex-Anzhi Makhachkala wide man has been training this week in the UAE and will be expected to add further drive to the division’s third-highest scorers.
“We have a big and important derby against Shabab Al Ahli, who we respect a lot,” said boss Krunoslav Jurcic. “They are one of the big teams and have a group of good players.
“But we will enter the match with the goal of winning and collecting all three points.”
Both sides are boosted on Friday by the presence of their UAE internationals. These players missed last week’s Arabian Gulf Cup quarter-final first legs amid preparations for Tuesday’s 0-0 friendly draw with Iraq.
With the winter transfer market in full swing, Khor Fakkan may field Brazilian winger Paulinho versus second-placed Al Jazira on Saturday after his capture from Bulgaria’s Levski Sofia. Al Ain’s protracted loan pursuit of Japan winger Shoya Nakajima had yet to reach fruition ahead of the trip to bottom-placed Hatta.
Leaders Sharjah will aim to end Ittihad Kalba’s eight-match unbeaten streak, Abu Dhabi bragging rights will be on the line when Al Wahda welcome fourth-placed Bani Yas and Syria’s Mohammad Kwid will begin his third spell in charge of Al Dhafra versus Al Wasl.
Ajman know victory – which would be their first in 2020/21 – against third-bottom Fujairah will move them to within one point of safety.
MATCH-WEEK 13 FIXTURES
17:00 Sharjah v Ittihad Kalba
17:00 Hatta v Al Ain
20:00 Ajman v Fujairah
20:00 Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club v Al Nasr
17:00 Khor Fakkan v Al Jazira
17:00 Al Dhafra v Al Wasl
20:00 Al Wahda v Bani Yas