Al Jazira take on Al Nasr in derby as AGL returns to action today - GulfToday

Al Jazira take on Al Nasr in derby as AGL returns to action today


Al Jazira players attend a training session ahead of their Arabian Gulf League match against Al Nasr. Courtesy: Twitter

Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter

Exciting clashes will be on the cards as the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) returns to action after a brief break with Ajman meeting Al Dhafra, Hatta taking on Al Wahda and Al Jazira hosting Al Nasr in the 14th round matches on Friday.

The other four matches of the round will be played on Saturday, wherein Khorfakkan host Al Ain, Shabab Al Ahli take on Ittihad Kalba, Bani Yas visit Al Wasl and defending champions Sharjah play against Fujairah.

In the early kick-offs at 5:30 pm, Ajman will square off against Al Dhafra at the Rashid Bin Saeed Stadium and Hatta welcome Al Wahda at Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium.

Ajman, who are in the relegation zone, will look to carry on the winning momentum after beating Fujairah in the last round. They will look to settle their scores against Al Dhafra, who defeated them 4-1 in the first round.

Meanwhile, Al Dhafra will look to end their three-game win-less streak after losing two and drawing one. They are at the tenth place with 16 points.

“We will go into the Ajman match with full confidence and try to get the best result despite a few players being absent,” said Al Dhafra coach Mohammed Kwid.

“We have been going through a difficult phase due to the absence of many key players. We may not be able to field as many as five key players, including Sultan Al Ghafri and Mikhail Rosheuvel, who are facing suspension,” added the Syrian.

“I am relying on the determination and fighting spirit of my players and I believe they will be able to deliver a positive result. We are still not out of safety zone and the Ajman match will be vital for us.

“Any result except a defeat in an away game is positive and welcoming for us. Ajman’s confidence is rocket-high after their victory over Fujairah,” he added.

Kwid was full of adulation for a resurgent Ajman after they bolstered their squad and delivered a few positive results across all the tournaments.

“Ajman have been playing a firebrand football and there has been a great difference in their performance since they made changes to their squad and roped in new players. Maiga, Gardel and an improved performance by Al Yamahi, makes them a dangerous customer but we have plans to tackle the trio,” he apprised.

“The clash against Ajman in the first match of the second-half of the season will be his real debut for the club,” said Al Al Dhafra French signing Idriso Al Amin.

“Despite the absence of key players, we will go into the match with a positive frame of mind and a winning attitude,” added Amin. At the same time, Hatta will be facing an uphill task against Al Wahda. Hatta are at the bottom of the table after procuring two draws from 13 games and still waiting for their first win in the league.

Meanwhile, Al Wahda will look to pound on the opportunity and heap more misery on Hatta. They will look to emulate their 6-0 win against Hatta and reduce the deficit with the top four.

However, the final match of the day will be a derby clash between Al Jazira and Al Nasr at Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium.

Al Jazira are second in the table with 27 points, three places above their counterparts Al Nasr, who have 24 points.

Al Jazira will look to curtail the deficit on leaders Sharjah while a victory for Al Nasr will put them at par with Al Jazira as three points separate three teams on the top of the standings. Both the teams will try hard to maintain their title push.

“We are optimistic about this forthcoming match with Al Jazira. We have a good atmosphere in the team and are well prepared for the match, and we aim to win and return with the three points,” said Al Nasr coach Kronuslav Jurcic.

Al Nasr goalkeeper Ali Al Kallaf also exuded confidence ahead of the match.

“We’ve turned the page on the last match of the Arabian Gulf Cup, and now we’re focusing on the next match that brings us together with the Al Jazira team in which we’re trying to get a positive outcome,” said Kallaf.

Meanwhile, Al Jazira coach Marcel Keizer is hoping to see at least one of his injured trio getting back to action against Al Nasr.

He also said that they have shifted their focus to the league and left the Khorfakkan defeat behind them.

“We are not thinking about that night in Khorfakkan anymore. We weren’t at our best, and the points went to the better side, but there are other reasons behind that defeat, like the penalties the referee didn’t count for us. The team did very well in 12 league rounds, and we won’t throw that away because of one bad night,” Marcel said during the pre-game press conference.

“We turned that page and now we are looking and thinking only about Al Nasr game. It will be tough and complicated because the two teams are on the same level, they have a good attacking trio upfront and creative two midfielders, so we need to be smart and disciplined against them. We are not sure about the chance of Al Attas, Serero and Ezekiel being ready for this match, but I hope to have at least one of them on the team list,” he added.

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