Henk ten Cate feels the heat at Al Ittihad in our Saudi Professional League preview

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Henk ten Cate (EPA).

The spectre of dismissal hangs over Henk ten Cate at fallen Saudi Professional League giants Al Ittihad ahead of Friday’s pressurised trip to champions Al Nassr.

Okaz newspaper has reported that the 65-year-old could be dismissed by the Tigers after disastrous downturn in form. A run of three losses and one draw by the tactician, who was only hired on November 4, has seen them dumped out of the King’s Cup, plus sit, precariously, one place above the drop zone.

The publication added that “poor results” and the fact that the “relationship between the Dutchman and most of the players is not well” has seen the board consider a change – which would be their fourth since May 2018. Ten Cate will be boosted by a likely debut for Argentinian centre midfielder Leonardo Gil, signed from Rosario Central for €1.4 million.

Leaders Nassr, in contrast, have won 11 of their last 12 matches in all competitions and will not show any leniency at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium. This is especially the case as second-placed Al Hilal, who boast a game in hand, welcome third-placed Al Wehda to Riyadh on Saturday.

The 2019 AFC Champions League holders are expected to be without winger Salem Al Dawsari because of a back complaint. Saudi Arabia centre midfielder Abdullah Otayf should also be sidelined with a thigh issue.

Managerless Al Taawoun will continue to be led by caretaker Abdullah Asiri when they welcome third-bottom Al Fateh on Friday, while Al Shabab will be looking to build on Luis Garcia’s solid start when they run-out at floundering Al Hazem.

Bottom-placed Damac desperately need a result on Saturday versus Ettifaq. Al Faisaly’s preparations ahead of their Al Raed test have been dominated by an ongoing deal for Gremio forward Guilherme.

Al Ahli Jeddah must swiftly recover from mid-week defeat to Hilal when they face electric promoted side Abha, who come into the round a superb fifth.

Thursday’s early match witnessed a 92nd-minute goal from Nawaf Al Sabhi salvage a 1-1 draw for Al Fayha at Al Adalah, for whom Aliou Cisse netted.

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