The Arabian Gulf League (AGL) is on a 24-day break for the latest round of international football, but that does not mean the action stops.
Two rounds of League Cup games are being played in the meantime, starting with three games on Wednesday night.
The league’s UAE internationals will not be available as Mahdi Ali, the national-team manager, has his team in training for Saturday’s friendly against the Philippines in Abu Dhabi with an eye on the 2015 Asian Cup qualifier against Hong Kong on November 15.
Several foreign players are out of action, too.
Baniyas travel to Sharjah without Carlos Munoz, their prolific Chile forward, who has joined his national team for their upcoming friendlies against England on November 15 and Brazil four days later. “We will definitely miss him for the two cup games, but we can take a lot of satisfaction because of the fact his performance for Baniyas has not gone unnoticed,” said Khaled Al Junaibi, a club official.
“It is an important game, as both teams will have the chance to consolidate their position in Group A.”
Munoz has scored five times in the league and once in the League Cup this season.
Baniyas and Sharjah share the lead with Al Ain, who travel to Al Jazira on Thursday.
Elsewhere, Abdullah Misfir wants his players to show more consistency as Al Dhafra try to consolidate their position at the top of the Group B table.
Misfir’s side return from a 2-1 defeat to Al Wasl in the AGL for a home meeting with the bottom team Al Shabab at the Hamdan bin Zayed Stadium.
“We have played a couple of good games, and then come up with a poor performance. We need to show more fluency and consistency in our game,” Misfir said.
Dhafra’s league record reads won two, drawn two, lost two, which highlights their inconsistency.
But the two wins were against champions Al Ain and an away trip to third-place Sharjah, and Dhafra have won three of their four League Cup games.
Shabab, on the other hand, have only one point from three games.
Cosmin Olaroiu, the Al Ahli coach, has to cope with the absence of five key players and the fact that his side are playing their game at Al Wasl’s stadium, because their home pitch is being used for the Fifa Under 17 World Cup.
Ahli meet Ajman, the defending champions who are unbeaten in four games in Group B.
Abdulwahab Abdulqader, the Ajman coach, will have the full squad at his disposal, while Olaroiu will be without Ahmed Khalil, Walid Abbas, Abdulaziz Haikal, Majid Hassan and Ismail Al Hammadi.
Ahli got their cup campaign back on track with a 4-1 win over Wasl in their last game, following a loss to Dhafra in the opener and a 1-1 draw against Emirates.
Barberis to take over for Rueda at Dubai
Dubai Club have appointed Umberto Barberis, their former coach, as the replacement for Martin Rueda.
The Swiss-Italian, who took charge of the club for two matches early in the 2011/12 campaign, will be tasked with lifting his team from second-to-last place in the Arabian Gulf League, with his first assignment at home against Al Wasl on November 23.
Under Rueda, Dubai’s record was particularly poor, with four defeats in six league matches, while in the League Cup, they have taken a solitary point from four fixtures. They can no longer qualify for the quarter-finals.
“Dubai Club have several outstanding players with real potential and some energy that needs to be discovered,” said Barberis, 61, who has managed several clubs in his homeland. “In their last two matches, they led Sharjah until the last minute, and then held Jazira to a draw. This proves the club has talented players.”
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