Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Al Alhi have not won over their last three league matches and Hugo Viana, centre, is hoping to end the recent slide. Satish Kumar / The National
Al Alhi have not won over their last three league matches and Hugo Viana, centre, is hoping to end the recent slide. Satish Kumar / The National

Battle among top two in Arabian Gulf League has little impact, says Olaroiu

League leaders in top-of-the-table clash against Al Shabab while Al Shaab hopes to improve dimal league record and Al Wasl are still full of confidence, writes John McAuley.

DUBAI // Hugo Viana has challenged his Al Ahli teammates to respond to last week’s defeat to Al Wasl when they entertain their surprise title rivals Al Shabab on Friday night.

The Arabian Gulf League leaders play host to their closest challengers, both geographically and in the standings, knowing another derby reverse would allow Shabab to climb over them to the top of the table.

Ahli enter the fixture on the back of three league matches without victory and fresh from seeing their unbeaten beginning to the 2013/14 league campaign halted by Al Wasl.

On Sunday, Ahli seemed set for a third successive draw until Maher Jassim struck two minutes from time to seal a 2-1 Wasl win.

“We have to show what we can do and play differently from the last game,” said Viana, Ahli’s Portuguese playmaker. “We’re not happy with our performance, but we’re confident we’re better than what we showed then.

“We have to be fully concentrated on the Shabab game to get the result. All players are important. There is no such thing as local players or foreign players – we are one team and we need to play together and do our best.”

Ahli will be without Amir Mubarak, the midfielder who serves a one-match suspension, although they are bolstered by the return from injury of the UAE international Majed Hassan.

Shabab trail Ahli by one point, but Cosmin Olaroiu, the Ahli coach, said it is too early to suggest tonight’s match will be decisive in determining a champion.

“It’s a long way to the title,” said the Romanian, who will watch the match from the stands as he contests a six-month touchline ban handed down last week by the Football Association. “People are talking about winning the championship, but we need to maintain our focus.”

Al Shaab v Dubai

Al Shaab will be hoping to end their dismal record in the league when they meet Dubai in a bottom of the table clash.

The Sharjah club have four points from 10 games and were beaten by Al Ain 5-2 in their last game, caretaker coach Jassim Yousef’s first game in charge since Marius Sumudica left the club.

Emirates v Al Wasl

Al Wasl travel to Ras Al Khaimah for a meeting with struggling Emirates full of confidence after becoming the first team to inflict a defeat on league leaders Al Ahli.

It was the perfect way for Wasl to respond after a 6-1 mauling they received against Al Nasr in the previous league game.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Al Ahli's Ismail Al Hammadi, left, battles for the ball during the Arabian Gulf Cup final between against Al Jazira at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on April 19, 2014. Al Hammadi hit the game-winner in the 81st minute for Ahli. Al Ittihad

Al Ahli maintain course for domestic treble with victory over Al Jazira in Arabian Gulf Cup

Al Ahli maintained their hopes of a domestic treble with a superb comeback victory against Al Jazira in the Arabian Gulf Cup final on Saturday night.

 Alex Kacaniklic, left, of Fulham tackles Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur during their Premier League match at White Hart Lane on April 19, 2014, in London, England. Clive Rose / Getty Images

Tottenham keep pace in chase for European places with victory over Fulham

Swansea appear to be safe after rallying past Newcastle while Crystal Palace continue their winning streak

 On a track described as a ‘tyre-killer’ in Shanghai, Lewis Hamilton went untested on his way to a 34th pole – the most by a British driver – yesterday. Carlos Barria / Reuters

Hamilton has sympathy for fans hung out to dry with wet tyre rules

The Briton takes his career's 34th pole - the most by a British driver - but sympathises it was not ideal for the ticket-paying public.

 JP Duminy played a cameo knock of 52 not out from 35 balls to tip the game in Delhi Daredevils' favour. Pawan Singh / The National

Kolkata Knight Riders lose way as Duminy sizzles for Delhi Daredevils

JP Duminy keeps his head as cameo at the death helps swing it in Delhi's favour in Dubai after captain Karthik plays the anchor role.

 Roelof Kotzee is leading UAE to unchartered territory. Sarah Dea / The National

UAE step into the unknown ahead of Asian Five Nations

Performance manager Roelof Kotze will give 12 players their first experience of international rugby, but there is also minimal information on Singapore ahead of first Test in Dubai on Wednesday, reports Paul Radley.

 Novak Djokovic of Serbia winces in pain during his semi-final match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 19, 2014. Federer prevailed to set up an all-Swiss final with Stanislas Wawrinka. SEBASTIEN NOGIER / EPA

Ailing Djokovic will ‘just rest now’ while Nadal not pressing the panic button

Djokovic says only rest will help is injured right wrist after he falls to Roger Federer on Saturday, and Nadal suffers just his third career defeat in Monte Carlo when he slumped to a shock 7-6, 6-4 quarter-final loss to compatriot Ferrer on Friday.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National