Eight teams participated in Day 1 of matchweek 6 of the Arabian Gulf League, while six others are scheduled to take to the field on Saturday, as Al Wahda face Ajman and Al Dhafra host Khorfakkan at 6pm, before Shabab Al Ahli welcome Al Jazira at home at 9pm.
Al Wahda kick off the action when they host Ajman at Al Nahyan Stadium. After succumbing to a defeat and a draw to Sharjah and Shabab Al Ahli, respectively, Al Wahda returned to winning ways with victories over Khorfakkan and Al Wasl to raise their tally to 10 points. Meanwhile, Ajman are in a dire situation due to their poor start to the season. After five matchweeks, the Oranges remain winless and have two points only.
Al Wahda never failed to find the back of the net in their past 16 encounters against Ajman in the league. On the other hand, Ajman defeated Al Wahda five times in the league, with three of them coming at Al Nahyan Stadium.
Al Wahda coach Vuk Rasovic expects a tough game against Ajman on Saturday. “Ajman have big motives to get a positive result. We need to adapt to the current situation and do our best to win,” he explained.
The Serbian coach said, “it’s a very important game especially that Ajman defeated us in a pre-season friendly.”
On the other hand, Ajman coach Ayman Al Ramadi stressed the importance of the three points for his team. “Despite knowing it’ll be a difficult task, we hope to win the game as we need to move towards safety,” he explained.
The Egyptian coach added, “we are confident we’ll be able to return to our quality performances. We acknowledge the pressure put on us, but this happens in football.”
Hamdan bin Zayed Stadium will host Al Dhafra and Khorfakkan clash at 6pm as well. Al Dhafra will be looking to return to winning ways after defeats to Sharjah and Al Ain that left them on seven points. Khorfakkan are also in a dire need for a win, as they so far lost four games and drew one to occupy the 13th spot.
The two teams met twice only in the Arabian Gulf League, with Al Dhafra winning the first encounter and the second ending in a goalless draw. Both teams suffer from a weak defensive performance as they each conceded 12 goals in the league so far.
Khorfakkan coach Caio Zanardi said his team are in a good shape after their qualification to the quarter final of the Arabian Gulf Cup. “We qualified to the quarters last week, and drew with Shabab Al Ahli in matchweek 5, which helped in boosting the team morale,” he said.
The Brazilian coach added, “Khorfakkan are improving and we always aim to put in strong performances and fight for victory regardless of the opponent’s strength.”
His Al Dhafra counterpart Aleksandar Veselinovic expects a tough game, yet confirmed his side’s readiness for the match, saying they are motivated to earn the three points.
“We have to remain focused the full 90 minutes because Khorfakkan are an ambitious team despite earning one point only. They put in strong performances and their position on the standings doesn’t reflect their performances,” the Serbian manager added.
Shabab Al Ahli and Al Jazira will wrap up the action at Rashid Stadium. After two important wins over Ittihad Kalba and Bani Yas in the league, the Pride of Abu Dhabi fell to a defeat to Sharjah that left them with eight points. On the other hand, Shabab Al Ahli remain undefeated but had to settle to three draws, as their tally stands on nine points.
Shabab Al Ahli lost once only in their last six league games at home against Al Jazira (4 wins – 1 draw), while Al Jazira won once only in their last seven league games away from home against Dubai-based teams (2 draws – 4 defeats).
Al Jazira coach Marcel Keizer highlighted the importance of his side’s clash with Shabab Al Ahli. “They are one of the title favorites and they are a strong team who play enjoyable football. We have to double our efforts to get a positive result,” he said.
“After losing to Sharjah in the previous matchweek, we hope that our clash with Shabab Al Ahli will mark our return to the right path,” the Dutch coach added.
On the other hand, Shabab Al Ahli coach Gerard Zaragoza affirmed his respect to Al Jazira, saying they have a good group of players. “We are looking to put in a good performance after the return of all players. Despite the importance of the game, the defeated won’t miss their title chances, it’s still too early,” the Spanish coach added.