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Arabian Gulf Cup playoff preview: Second Leg

Around a month after the conclusion of the first leg of the playoff round, the Arabian Gulf Cup action will once again return as we have six second leg matches to look upon this upcoming weekend.


The return leg matches will be held over two days, with Bani Yas taking on Hatta, Ajman facing Fujairah and Al Jazira hosting Ittihad Kalba on Thursday. Friday games will see Khorfakkan welcome Al Ain at home, Al Dhafra host Shabab Al Ahli and Al Wasl clash with Al Wahda.


Al Nasr and Sharjah aren’t taking part in the qualifying round, as under the new format of the Arabian Gulf Cup, the reigning champions of the Arabian Gulf League and the Arabian Gulf Cup qualify directly to the quarter-final.


Bani Yas already have one foot in the quarters after their 2-0 win away from home over Hatta in the first leg, thanks to first half goals from Joao Pedro and Mohamed Al Hammadi.


Hatta’s recent league performances raises questions over their ability to overturn the deficit in the return leg, which is set to kick off at 6pm, as they sit at the bottom of the table after falling to four defeats and one draw. Meanwhile, hosts Bani Yas aren’t in their best form in the current period. After their impressive start to the league season, they failed to get a win in their past two league matches, losing 3-1 to Al Jazira and drawing 0-0 with Ajman.


Fujairah, who will also be playing at 6pm, go into the second leg at Rashid bin Saeed Stadium with a slight advantage thanks to Waleed Al Yamahi’s own goal. However, both teams haven’t been performing well in the league so far, as Ajman have two points and Fujairah claimed one point only after five matchweeks.


The final match of the day will see Al Jazira welcome Kalba at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, as the Pride of Abu Dhabi will be looking to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg, which saw Peniel Mlapa net a brace and Milos Kosanovic net Al Jazira’s sole goal.


Al Jazira’s performance in the league has been inconsistent as they drew their first two games, won their second two, and lost to Sharjah in matchweek 5. They sit two points above Kalba who so far fell to three defeats and earned two wins.


Al Dhafra will host Shabab Al Ahli on Friday at 6pm. The hosts technically have a slightly higher advantage after their 1-1 draw at Rashid Stadium in the first leg.


However, Al Dhafra have slipped off the space in recent weeks as they suffered two consecutive defeats against Sharjah (5-0) and Al Ain (4-1) in the league. Shabab Al Ahli also aren’t exactly in their best form as they enter the game on the back of a 2-2 draw with 13th-placed Khorfakkan.


Khorfakkan, however, are favorites to qualify from their encounter with Al Ain after their surprise 4-2 away from home win over Al Ain at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. Khorfakkan’s win over Al Ain in the cup remains their only victory of the season so far, as they succumbed to one draw and four league defeats, including a loss to Al Ain.


On the other hand, Al Ain’s performance has been below par, with two wins, two draws and a defeat in the league so far. And while it is technically difficult to overturn their first leg defeat, the Boss will be looking to keep the momentum alive after their late 4-1 win over Al Dhafra in matchweek 5.


Al Wasl enter their game with Al Wahda at Zabeel Stadium at 9pm with a 2-1 advantage from the first leg at Al Nahyan Stadium. It will be a repeat of their most recent encounter in matchweek 5 of the league, which saw Al Wahda emerge 3-2 victorious. This marked Al Wasl’s third defeat of the season, while Al Wahda lost only once to leaders Sharjah.  

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