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Penultimate matchweek preview: Title race goes down to the wire

While the penultimate matchweek of the Arabian Gulf League is nearly upon us, the key battles at the top and bottom of the table remain undecided. Below we shed light on the tense title race and the heated-up relegation battle, as we preview matchweek 25 of the Arabian Gulf League, which is scheduled for Friday, May 7.


After both sides dropped points in matchweek 24, Al Jazira and Bani Yas are still neck-and-neck in a close and thrilling title race, as the Pride of Abu Dhabi top standings, just a solitary point ahead of challengers Bani Yas. Al Jazira are eyeing their third league title, while Bani Yas are seeking to win their first-ever Arabian Gulf League title. At the other end of the table, Ajman and Fujairah are still fighting for survival, while Hatta may have missed their chance to escape relegation after their most recent defeat to Sharjah.


Ittihad Kalba’s penultimate match of the season is an away trip to Hatta’s Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium at 21:00 on Friday. A defeat would officially confirm Hatta’s relegation from the Arabian Gulf League, as they currently linger at the bottom of the standings with 9 points only. On the other hand, Ittihad Kalba are enjoying midtable safety, considering they sit in seventh place with 36 points, yet they could be looking to move up and leapfrog Al Ain who are sixth with 38 points.


Meanwhile, Khorfakkan will host Fujairah in a high-stakes match at Saqr bin Mohammad al Qassimi Stadium. While Khorfakkan already guaranteed Arabian Gulf League safety, Fujairah, who still have a game in hand against Al Wahda, will be looking to collect the three points in their bid to escape relegation.


Fujairah will have a keen eye on Ajman’s clash with Sharjah Rashid bin Saeed Stadium, which will also kick off at 21:00. The Oranges will take some confidence from their recent 3-3 draw with Al Jazira which revived their survival chances. However, they will have a tough take ahead as they face Sharjah, who returned to winning ways with a 3-0 win over Hatta and will be aiming to cement their place in the top 3.


League leaders Al Jazira are set to welcome Al Ain at Mohammad bin Zayed Stadium with the kick-off set for 23:00. The Pride of Abu Dhabi are masters of their own destiny and know that two wins will guarantee them their third league title. On the other hand, Al Ain seek to make amends with their frustrated fans after their disappointing campaign which saw them sit in sixth place, outside the AFC Champions League qualification spots.


Bani Yas will fight for the full points when they travel to face Al Dhafra at Hamdan Bin Zayed Stadium to keep their title chances alive. The Sky Blues are breathing down the neck of Al Jazira and will be hoping for the leaders to stumble to get a chance to replace them at the top. Meanwhile, the hosts will be looking to end their six-game winless run, which left them in 11th place with 21 points.


Following their qualification to the AFC Champions League Round of 16, Al Wahda will be fully confident when they host Al Nasr at Shabab Al Ahli Stadium. The hosts, who still have a game in hand against Fujairah, will be looking to move up in the standings, as they are currently eighth with 35 points, three behind sixth-placed Al Ain. Considering they are leveled with third-placed Sharjah on 45 points and only one clear of Shabab Al Ahli, Al Nasr will be eyeing the full points to cement a top-four finish.  


Rashid Stadium will host Shabab Al Ahli’s clash with Al Wasl, as the hosts aim to burst into the top four, while there is little to be decided for the guests who occupy ninth place with 34 points.

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