Sharjah players attend a training session ahead of their Arabian Gulf League match on Friday.
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Blockbuster matches are on the cards in the sixth round as the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) resumes after a break on Friday.
In the top of the table clash, leaders Sharjah will look to extend their lead when they take on second-placed Al Nasr on home turf in a 9pm kick-off.
In the other matches on Friday, Al Wasl host Al Ain and Bani Yas welcome Ittihad Kalba in the early kick-offs at 6pm while Fujairah face Hatta in a late encounter.
Sharjah, who are on the top of the table with 15 points, will look to continue their five-game winning juggernaut against Al Nasr in the league. Sharjah coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari looked confident ahead of their match against their nearest rivals.
“We are up against a very strong team. We hope it to be a tough match. They have very good players and an excellent coaching staff.
“But we are confident of maintaining our winning run in the league and return with all three points up for grabs to extend our lead at the top,” said Anbari.
Sharjah got off to a stellar start and have won all five games on the trot to accumulate the maximum points available.
“The consistency and stability of the squad is important and helps in its push for the excellence. But that does not mean we should neglect our qualified substitute players, who are able to face any circumstances.
“We have seen a healthy competition between the players and that is a positive thing for the team and it gives the coaching staff more options to choose from,” he added.
“Our fans led the king to the platforms, and today despite their absence from the stands, we have great moral support from them.
“This has a positive effect in motivating the players who feel this support and always strive to give their best to appease the fans with positive results,” he concluded
Sharjah’s player Abdullah Ghanem described it as an important game as the teams are separated by just two points. “Our preparations are going well and we are focused
Intensely. The difference of the two points between us and the Al Nasr increases the importance of the match more. We seek to win this match and continue our march steadily towards preserving the title.
Sharjah are the defending champions. The league was cancelled mid-way last season due to the pandemic.
The cancellation of the league with several rounds to spare prompted the decision to suspend coronation and relegation both, thus Sharjah retained the crown.
Ghanem said: “In the last two consecutive matches, we kept our nets clean. And this is due to everyone’s effort and work.”
Meanwhile, Al Nasr will look to maintain an unbeaten run in the league. Exuding a stellar form, Al Nasr are also unbeaten in their five with 13 points.
They trail Sharjah by just two points with four wins and one draw in five matches. They are mounting pressure on Sharjah by keeping a foot on the tail of the leaders, heating up the race. Al Nasr coach Kronslav Jurcic predicted a tough match against Sharjah, calling it a derby.
“Two days back Mohammed Fawzi, Mahmoud Khamis, Habib Al Fardan and Tigali joined our team. Ryan Mendes will be joining us soon before the match.
“The stakes are high in the game and we don’t want to leave anything to chance. It will be a sort of derby with two top clubs meeting to grab the bragging rights,” said Jurcic.
“Sharjah are one of the strongest teams in the league and we respect them like all the teams, whom we play against, but we are ready to face them. We will look to maintain our unbeaten run in the league.”
The remaining three matches will be held on Saturday when Al Wahda meet Ajman and Al Dhafra face off Khorfakkan. The last match of the week will be played by Shabab Al Ahli and Al Jazira.
Sharjah cemented their position on top the league table after an impressive 2-0 victory against Al Jazira at Mohammad in Zayed Stadium in matchweek 7 of the Arabian Gulf League.
Abdulla Anwar scored a hat-trick as Al Wahda eased past Sharjah 3-1at Sharjah Stadium in matchweek 2 of the Arabian Gulf Cup Group B on Saturday.
Shabab Al Ahli extended their lead at the top of the Arabian Gulf League table after a hard-fought 3-2 victory against Sharjah at Rashid Stadium in matchweek 13 on Friday.
India skipper Rohit Sharma batted at number nine with an injured thumb and hit an unbeaten 51 off 28 balls to give Bangladesh a scare as India ended on 266-9 in 50 overs.
The league has seen significant year-on-year growth in viewership and economic value, with the 2021-2022 edition of the tournament having reached 342m viewers through television and digital streaming compared to roughly 37m viewers in the 2017 edition.
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