x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Crunch time for Cerezo and Abdulhaleem

The pressure that is piling up on Ahmed Abdulhaleem and Toninho Cerezo will be evident when they take their places on the sideline tonight.

ABU DHABI // The pressure that is piling up on Ahmed Abdulhaleem and Toninho Cerezo will be evident when they take their places on the sideline for tonight's crucial Pro League game between Al Wahda and Al Shabab at the Rashid bin Maktoum Stadium. The Wahda coach Abdulhaleem is already under fire given the recent performances of his team and the 1-0 defeat to Al Ain in the last match which put them seven points behind the leaders Al Ahli.

He said: "The players are aware how important this game is for us. We still have a long way to go in the league but we can't fall too far behind." Champions Shabab haven't fared much better in the league and the defeat to promoted Ajman has further dented their confidence. They are 11 points behind the leaders and Cerezo said: "Our biggest problem has been scoring goals. For some strange reasons our strikers haven't been on the mark and if we can get over this, then our problems have been solved."

Sharjah have scored 10 goals in their last two games and are on a high ahead of their trip to Al Ahli were knocked out of the President's Cup after an embarrassing 1-0 loss to Bani Yas on Saturday. The mood in the two camps could not be more different, but Ahli coach Ivan Hasek said: "We need to forget about the loss to Bani Yas and close that file. The players should now focus on continuing their success in the league and stay at the top.

"I hope the loss to Bani Yas will act as a spur." Ahli are top of the league table with 18 points, while Sharjah are ninth on seven. But coach Youssef al Zawawi believes there is a renewed vigour in the side and hopes it will be on show tonight. "Our 6-1 win over Ittihad Kalba and the 4-4 draw at Al Wasl shows that the spirit is back in the side," said the Tunisian, who was the Ahli coach last season before getting the sack.

Al Wasl, who also bowed out of the President's Cup last week after the 3-1 defeat to Al Jazira, travel to Al Dhafra tonight, eyeing their first win in four games while Al Nasr, another second round casualty of the President's Cup, host Ajman, hoping for thier first home win this season. sports@thenational.ae