New Arabian Gulf League leaders Al Jazira face a stern test when Cup kings Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club visit on Saturday.
The Pride of Abu Dhabi usurped Sharjah at the top of the standings, for the first time this term, when their 10 men inflicted a dominant 3-0 defeat last weekend. Stiff opposition, however, is faced for a third-successive game when Mahdi Ali’s men walk out at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
The ex-UAE boss has overseen a 15-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, securing final berths in the President’s Cup and Arabian Gulf Cup. Victory will also create just a five-point deficit to top spot, with seven matches remaining.
Issues at the opposite end of the table, meanwhile, dominate when bottom-placed Hatta face third-bottom Fujairah.
The Tornado are determined to claw back a five-point gap to the Wolves, who sit nervously on the drop zone’s precipice and have lost seven of their last eight top-flight games. Also on Saturday, Al Wasl are looking to rebound at Al Ain from AG Cup semi-final disappointment versus Shabab Al Ahli and third-placed Bani Yas, fresh from seeing inspirational coach Daniel Isaila ink a contract extension until 2023, meet Ittihad Kalba fresh from AG Cup last-four disappointment on penalties against Al Nasr.
The fourth-placed Blue Wave – who meet Shabab Al Ahli in both Cup showpieces – will hope to inflict more misery on out-of-form Sharjah, whose grip on second is weakening after four winless matches. Seventh-placed Al Wahda must be confident of downing relegation-threatened Ajman and sides mired in mid-table battle when Al Dhafra travel to Khor Fakkan.
MATCH-WEEK 19 FIXTURES
17:30 Al Ain v Al Wasl
17:30 Ittihad Kalba v Bani Yas
20:15 Al Jazira v Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club
20:15 Hatta v Fujairah
17:30 Ajman v Al Wahda
17:30 Khor Fakkan v Al Dhafra
20:15 Al Nasr v Sharjah