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 When Grafite's contract expired last summer, Al Ahli studied his performance data and determined he was one of the team's hardest workers, and kept him with a new deal. Satish Kumar / The National

Al Ahli using data analysis to reap advantage on Arabian Gulf League rivals

Al Ahli chairman Abdullah Al Naboodah has put the club at the forefront of the AGL's analytically-minded sides, enabling their performance analysts to feed the club the best information possible, writes John McAuley.

 Chris Loxston, left, Al Ahli’s head of performance analysis, is busy in front of his computer even as a game is underway at the Rashid Stadium, Dubai. The Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu, second from left, then uses that information to devise strategies for the team. Pawan Singh / The National

The tools that are helping Al Ahli compete for trophies

As the Arabian Gulf League gets back up and running tomorrow, John McAuley goes behind the scenes at Al Ahli to find out how Chris Loxston, the club’s head of performance analysis, and sports scientist Michael Lawson are using technology to help league leaders’ quest for titles. Photographs by Pawan Singh

 Chris Loxton, head of performance analysis at Al Ahli, works with a Prozone heat map at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai. Prozone heat maps can tell Al Ahli coaching staff where a player has been most active on the pitch. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Al Ahli’s data-driven revolution

A look at the people and tools supporting performance analysis at Al Ahli.

 Eisa Ahmed, right, of Al Wahda tussles for the ball with Brett Holman of Al Nasr during their Arabian Gulf League match on January 6, 2014. Satish Kumar / The National

Eisa Ahmed among new faces emerging for UAE national team

Al Wahda defender recalled for national team's trip to Uzbekistan in 2015 Asian Cup qualifier.

Latest News

Al Ahli going for knockout against Al Hilal in Asian Champions League


With Arabian Gulf Cup final on horizon, three points against Al Hilal will all but assure new UAE champions of last-16 berth

New coach Jorginho has big plans for Al Wasl’s future


Wasl introduce Jorginho as their new coach, with the Brazilian immediately vowing to help restore the Dubai club to former glory, reports John McAuley.

Al Wasl appoint Jorginho, Brazil World Cup 1994 winner, as 2014/15 manager


Al Wasl have hired Jorginho, the Brazilian World Cup winner in 1994, as Hector Cuper's successor, The National's John McAuley has learned.

Al Ahli enjoy league crown through a faithful blur of red and black


Al Ahli fans came out in numbers to watch their club clinch a sixth Arabian Gulf League crown with a little help from team captain Grafite and friends, writes John McAuley.

Al Shabab’s Paqueta values wins more than goals


Al Shabab manager Marcos Paqueta wants his side to maintain its second position and says their late-season scoring woes are a phase that will pass, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

Big think has helped Al Ahli soar to the top of UAE football


The Dubai club could lift all four trophies this season, the result of hiring the best players and coaches, starting with Fabio Cannavaro and Quique Sanchez Flores, writes Paul Oberjuerge.

Al Ahli’s Raducan gives AGL leaders a nudge


Ahli require just one point to clinch a first UAE championship in five years. They should do that against Al Wasl on Thursday night, although the buoyant league leaders are urging caution, writes John McAuley.

Pro League Committee names Al Areefi as new chief executive


League underwent several momentous changes during Smith's tenure

Match reports

Saeed spurs Sharjah to victory and third place in Arabian Gulf League


Tagliabue scores four as Al Wahda keep eyes set on Asian qualification

Al Ahli clinch Arabian Gulf League title with win over Al Wasl


Ahmed Khalil and Grafite combined for two goals within three minutes to lead Al Ahli to a 2-1 victory over Al Wasl and with the win, the Dubai club clinches the league title after recording their 18th win of the season.

Arabian Gulf League history at hand for Olaroiu and Al Ahli


One point from four remaining matches will hand Al Ahli their first league title in five seasons

Tagliabue brace pushes Al Wahda past Al Shabab


Al Ahli could take a firm hold on the Arabian Gulf League title trophy with victory at Al Jazira on Sunday night after their closest rivals Al Shabab on Saturday had a second consecutive defeat with a 2-1 loss at home to Al Wahda, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

Al Shabab miss chance to pull closer to Al Ahli at top of Arabian Gulf League table


Al Wahda move up to fifth place in table with 3-1 defeat of Al Wasl

Grafite hits late winner as class prevails for Al Ahli


Catalin Raducan, the Ahli assistant manager, saluted the efforts of his men, who have played four matches in the past 11 days and capped off their latest win in grand fashion, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

In his return, Al Jazira’s Zenga draws a blank at Al Nasr


The Abu Dhabi club, managed by former Nasr manager Walter Zenga, wasted a couple of goalscoring chances in the second half at Al Maktoum Stadium, writes John McAuley.

Little room for sentiment for Zenga as Al Jazira visit Al Nasr


Coach returns to club he once managed but feels no less competitive ahead of game on Thursday, writes John McAuley.

Oliveira hopeful of turnaround in form, of himself and of Al Wasl


In less than five years, Oliveira scored 54 goals in 78 matches. That he has thus far failed to register a strike at Wasl has been particularly frustrating.

Grafite helps Cosmin Olaroiu’s Al Ahli send across a message at Al Ain


A first-half double by the Brazilian helped cushion a late fight back from the hosts, in the shadow of an excruciating court case over coach Olaroiu, who had to miss a hearing to focus on the game. Also Baniyas beat Emirates 2-1.