x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

The heat is on at the bottom of the Pro League

Sixteen days have passed since the last league match, and two teams are going head-to-head.

Dubai must avoid defeat at Al Jazira to avoid relegation.
Dubai must avoid defeat at Al Jazira to avoid relegation.

Thankfully Al Ain wrapped up the Pro League title weeks ago because the sting has really been taken out of the end of the season by the mammoth gap between games.

When the eight teams playing their final games on Sunday take to the field (Al Ain v Ajman is tomorrow, Al Wasl v Al Ahli Saturday), 16 days will have passed between the penultimate match day and this one.

Imagine if two teams had been going head-to-head for the title, such as with Manchester City and United in the English Premier League.

More than two weeks of tension, hype, preparation.

As it happens, two teams are going head-to-head, but at the other end of the table.

Dubai must avoid defeat at Al Jazira to avoid relegation, regardless of how Emirates fare at home to Al Wahda. And this is where the lengthy gap has created an uneven playing field.

Anyone who has stepped outside after dark recently knows that the evenings are now hot, you can stroll about for a few minutes no problem but it is not the kind of weather to play a football match.

Yet Jazira have just toiled through 120 minutes in humid conditions touching 35°C in their Asian Champions League tie against Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia.

Several players went down with cramp during the game on Tuesday, but now they are expected to recover in the space of four days and do Emirates a favour by seeing off Dubai.

Playing in the heat is not ideal and both teams have to deal with it. What is not fair is when one team have had 16 days to prepare, the other just four.