Matchweek 12 of the Arabian Gulf League was held over two days, including the last day of 2020 and the first day of the new year. It saw defending champions Sharjah remain at the top of the standings, while the highly anticipated derby matches between Al Ain and Al Jazira, Al Nasr and Al Wahda and Al Wasl and Shabab Al Ahli all ended in 2-2 draws.
Sharjah and Ajman
Defending champions Sharjah continued their strong performances against their guests Ajman and defeated them 2-0 to reach the 29th point, ending 2020 at the top of the Arabian Gulf League table. The King put in a strong effort and dominated the course of the match from the beginning, and Igor Cornado and Welliton Soares starred as they scored the two goals and perhaps, Sharjah’s early goal made things easier. Sharjah seem determined to fight for the title this season, especially under the good management of Emirati coach Abdulaziz Al Anberi. On the other hand, the Oranges are still searching for a way to make a comeback under the leadership of coach Ayman Al Ramady, as they suffered their eighth loss in the competition this season and are frozen on 3 points. However, their performance may improve in the upcoming days, in light of the return of some of the regular players, or the signing of new players who can make the difference.
Fujairah and Khorfakkan
At Fujairah Stadium, Khorfakkan overcame their hosts Fujairah 2-1 in the derby, as Khorfakkan raised their tally to 11 points, while Fujairah's remained on 7 points. Khorfakkan relied on teamwork and managed to block the key players at Fujairah, while following a pressing style of play. Khorfakkan’s good substitutions in the second half made the difference, as they pressured Fujairah and collected the three points. Meanwhile, Fujairah lost the match in only 5 minutes, as they controlled possession and opened the scoring, but they failed to maintain their lead and made defensive mistakes that cost them the three points.
Kalba and Hatta
At Kalba Stadium, Hatta held their hosts Ittihad Kalba to a goalless draw, as each team earned a point, with the Tigers raising their tally to 19 points, and Hatta to two points. The first half saw Kalba control the proceedings, as they wasted a number of goalscoring chances. On the other hand, Hatta relied on counterattacks and tried to score an early goal against a difficult and strong team on the offensive side. The coaches tried to change things in the second half, but the situation remained unchanged, as they shared the spoils.
Al Ain and Al Jazira
Al Ain and Al Jazira put in an outstanding performance as they played out a 2-2 draw, with the Boss raising their tally to 20 points in fifth place, while Al Jazira now have 27 points in second place, two points behind the league leaders. Despite playing the second half with 10 players after Yahia Nader was sent off, Al Ain tried to find the balance and pressure Al Jazira. Although Al Jazira netted two goals within three minutes and were the better side, Al Ain tried to improve the result in the remaining minutes and went in search for a third goal but ended up with one point only. On the other hand, Al Jazira put in a good performance against Al Ain, and their defensive errors cost them two goals in the first half, before the Pride of Abu Dhabi controlled possession, while Al Ain relied on counterattacks. In the second half, Al Jazira changed their style of play, and introduced an offensive midfielder and were able to make a comeback against a tough team.
Bani Yas and Al Dhafra
The Sky Blues are among the most enjoyable teams to watch in the league this season. They needed 18 seconds only to open the scoring through their brilliant player Sultan Al Shamsi, who netted the fastest goal in the league this season so far and led his team to a 3-1 victory at the expense of Al Dhafra at Bani Yas Stadium. They remained in fourth place with 23 points and Al Dhafra remained on 15 points in tenth place. The match proved that Bani Yas are a strong contender and one of the toughest teams this season. Bani Yas deserved to win from the first minute, as they put in a balanced performance and controlled the midfield, along with strong offensive efforts and harmony between all players. On the other hand, Al Dhafra need to learn from their mistakes, and the important absences within the team are not an excuse for the defeat, because Al Dhafra are yet to match their performances in the previous seasons. However, the new signings in the upcoming period may make the difference. Overall, the match was very good from Bani Yas’ side and below average from Al Dhafra's.
Al Nasr and Al Wahda
It was an exciting match until the last minute, as Al Nasr snatched 2-2 a draw against Al Wahda in the dying moments of the game at Al Maktoum Stadium. The Blues now have 24 points in third place, while Al Wahda are on 19 points in sixth place. There were a lot of goalscoring chances during the match. Al Nasr could have sealed the win from the first half, as they had full control over the match, continued their strong performances and created valuable chances but failed to capitalize on them. Meanwhile, Al Wahda’s performance was weak and they didn’t threaten Al Nasr’s goal. The first half was in Al Nasr's favour despite wasting some easy chances, while in the second half, Al Wahda looked different and managed to equalize the scoreline. If Al Wahda maintained this performance, especially with the return of injured players, things may be different for the team at the end of the season.
Al Wasl and Shabab Al Ahli
Shabab Al Ahli snatched a valuable point after drawing 2-2 with Al Wasl, as they are now tied on 16 points, with Shabab Al Ahli sitting eighth, one spot above Al Wasl. Al Wasl players put in an impressive performance and controlled the first half of the game. They scored twice but faced a tough challenge after losing the services of Abdulrahman Saleh who was sent off in the seventh minute. On the other hand, Shabab Al Ahli capitalized on Al Wasl’s numerical disadvantage to make a comeback. Both sides were cautious and created few chances. It was also a tough game, considering the good players in both teams. In case Al Wasl managed to maintain their performance in the upcoming matches, they would a have a chance to improve their position and earn good results in the Arabian Gulf League.