Title, ACL berth and survival at stakes in last round of AGL - GulfToday

Title, ACL berth and survival at stakes in last round of AGL

Arabian Gulf League

Bani Yas coach Daniel Isaila speaks during a press conference as a team official looks on. Courtesy: Twitter

Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter

The stage is set for a thrilling climax at the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) as the battle for the title goes right down to the wire on Tuesday.

A tough competition between the leaders Al Jazira and Bani Yas has left title race wide open. Al Jazira with 54 points in their kitty are one point ahead of their city rivals Bani Yas, who are lurking to pounce on any mistake committed by the leaders.

It is not only the fight for the crowning glory that makes it an interesting proposition, but there is a plenty to play for by the other teams as well.

The battle for the third spot, which guarantees an automatic qualification for the AFC Champions League, is equally fierce. Three teams are in contention for the third spot, including AGL champions Sharjah.

There will be a tough fight down the table for remaining afloat in the top flight by Fujairah and Ajman as well.

An excited Al Jazira will visit a confident Khorfakkan, who are unbeaten in their last two matches. Any slip-up by the Pride of Abu Dhabi could cost them the title.

Anything less than a win will leave their chances in tatters as Bani Yas, who are riding high on confidence after a thumping 5-0 rout of Al Dhafra in their last round match, will be in action against Al Wahda simultaneously.

If Al Jazira lose or draw, Bani Yas can lift their first ever AGL crown with a win. In case if both the teams are tied on points, Al Jazira will go ahead by the virtue of a superior head-to-head record.

Bani Yas coach Daniel Isaila said the team is excited with the prospect of being in the contention for the title in their last game of the season. They want to end season high with a victory against Al Wahda.

“We are all very excited and want to give our best shot against Al Wahda. After that we can only wait for the Al Jazira-Khorfakkan match result,” said Isaila.

“Al Wahda are a strong and organized team. The change of the coach has brought a change in their fortune as well. They have been able to procure positive results since then,” he added.

He was also full of adulation for his players after a stellar season, which guarantees them their best finish if not the coronation glory.

“We had an excellent season and I am completely satisfied with our performance. I am proud of my players, even if we do not go on to win the title,” he explained.

“I have always focused only on the results of my team that we do not lose points. But this time around we will wait and watch what happens on the last day of the season.

“Khorfakkan has nothing to lose. So they will go into game without any pressure. We will see what kind of competition they can give to Al Jazira,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sharjah will look to consolidate their position at the third spot with a victory against Ittihad Kalba. Finishing in top three would seal an ACL berth for them.

However, Shabab Al Ahli and Al Nasr are keeping it hot on the heels of the AGL champions. Shabab al Ahli are trailing Sharjah by one point and Al Nasr are one point further adrift in the fourth.

However, a win for either of the two teams can dethrone Sharjah from the third spot, should the Kings lose or held by Kalba.

Sharjah coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari said they are looking to extend their winning streak against Kalba.

“We are ready for the match. We will try to finish our campaign on a winning note.  We hope to continue our winning momentum,” said Anbari.

“It will be a difficult game for Kalba, who are coming into match on the back of a defeat. But they are finishing the season just behind Al Ain and it is a big achievement,” added Anbari.

Ajman and Fujairah, who are in 12th and 13th places respectively, will scramble for survival for another season.

Both the teams are levelled on 15 points each but Fujairah have one more game in hand. Fujairah will play their postponed fixtures against Al Wahda later on Saturday, which gives them another chance.

But Ajman have better head-to-head record as they defeated Fujairah in their earlier fixture. An outright victory for Ajman will put all doubts to rest. If Ajman fail to win the battle for the relegation will go beyond Tuesday.

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