x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Fixture change means Al Ain can win Pro League title early

Dubai agree to request to move game a day forward from Friday to help home side's Asian Champions League preparations.

Al Ain's players will be look to enjoy more celebrations as they bid to clinch the Pro League title.
Al Ain's players will be look to enjoy more celebrations as they bid to clinch the Pro League title.

Al Ain could be crowned champions of the Pro League on Thursday after Dubai finally agreed to bring their match forward by 24 hours.

The Garden City club, 13 points clear at the top of the table, had contacted their Round 22 opponents earlier this week to request the fixture change, citing the need for an extra day's preparation for next Tuesday's crucial Asian Champions League encounter against Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia.

It is believed Dubai initially rejected the appeal, but it has since emerged the match at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium will take place tomorrow night - 7:25pm - instead. The National reported yesterday that the ground is to be "elaborately decorated" in anticipation of Al Ain sealing a second successive league title.

Given the points' differential between the champions and Al Ahli, the division's second-placed side, victory would guarantee the trophy with four rounds to spare. Al Ain could then focus on their quest for qualification to the last 16 of the Champions League:

Cosmin Olaroiu's charges currently sit second in Group D, one point behind Iran's Esteghlal with two matches remaining.
Tuesday's match in Riyadh is therefore vital to those chances of progression, especially following last week's results. Al Ain were defeated 2-1 by Al Rayyan in Qatar, while Hilal managed a surprise 1-0 win at Esteghlal's intimidating Azadi Stadium.

The triumph moved Hilal level on points with Al Ain, who lead their regional rivals by virtue of their head-to-head record, a product of February's 3-1 victory at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed.

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