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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Al Wasl and Al Nasr’s Dubai derby takes centre stage as Arabian Gulf League returns to action

Ahead of Round 3 in the Arabian Gulf League, Amith Passela catches us up with the goings-on in the UAE top flight after a three-week hiatus.
Al Wasl and Al Nasr in action during an Arabian Gulf League match last season. Photo Courtesy / Arshad Khan / AGL
Al Wasl and Al Nasr in action during an Arabian Gulf League match last season. Photo Courtesy / Arshad Khan / AGL

Ahead of Round 3 in the Arabian Gulf League, Amith Passela catches us up with the goings-on in the UAE top flight after a three-week hiatus:

With the Al Ain versus Al Ahli fixture rescheduled for December 31, the Dubai derby between Al Wasl and Al Nasr now takes precedence of the six-match card of the Arabian Gulf League this weekend.

Al Ain travel to Doha for their Asian Champions League second-leg semi-final against El Jaish on Tuesday and Ahli prepare for a meeting with FUS Rabat in the Emirati-Moroccan Super Cup.

• Why the Al Ain-Al Ahli match was rescheduled: Al Ahli and FUS Rabat to contest Emriati-Moroccan Super Cup

Wasl and Nasr are both on three points each and are presented with an opportunity to leapfrog one another in the table Friday night at the Zabeel Stadium.

Rodolfo Arruabarrena, the Wasl manager, wants his team to bounce back from a couple of recent poor results in the Arabian Gulf Cup.

“We didn’t win our previous two matches, and against Al Dhafra (lost 1-0) we played poorly,” said the Argentine.

“We want to win this game for our fans. It’s a derby game and I expect Nasr to give a good performance against us, and in such matches usually small details will decide the winning team.”

Ivan Jovanovic, the Nasr manager, is faced with a selection dilemma from his returning players from national duty and injuries.

“We have had a lot of issues in the run-up to the match, with several key players away on national duty, including Jonathan Pitroipa (Burkina Faso), plus injury to Jires Kembo-Ekoko and suspension for Masoud Sulaiman,” he said.

“It has been difficult to prepare the team for this match under such circumstances.

“However, we managed to keep the shape of the team in spite of the absences in the recent Cup games, and we have made adjustments to some players’ positions and discovered their effectiveness. This is a positive we can take forward.”

In the other matches on Friday evening, Dibba play Emirates, Al Shabab will be at home to Baniyas and Hatta take on Kalba.

On Saturday, Al Wahda travel to Al Dhafra with the hope of ending a seven-match run in all competitions without a win.

In most of these games, Wahda were comfortably placed, but due either to misfortune or complacency, they have allowed leads to slip.

They were held to a scoreless result by the promoted Hatta in their league opener and drew 1-1 to a late goal from Al Jazira in the next. In the Cup competition, they surrendered a two-goal lead both against Jazira and Emirates.

They travel to Dhafra for a meeting with a side that thumped them 4-2 in the Arabian Gulf Cup.

Wahda were depleted with several key players, including their marquee Chilean signing Jorge Valdivia and the Hungary captain Balazs Dzsudzsak, drafted to their national teams for the World Cup qualifiers.

In the late game, Jazira meet Sharjah at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

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