Dubai: Defending champions Sharjah will be looking forward to signing off the old year on a winning note as they host neighbouring Ajman in Round 12 of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) on Thursday.
Leaders from the start of the season, Sharjah shrugged off their earlier loss against Bani Yas to win 3-2 away in Hatta last week and stay clear at the top of the standings with 26 points. But, Al Jazira too kept pace with the leaders with a 3-0 win against Ajman to match Sharjah’s 26 points and trail in second place on goal difference.
In third is Al Nasr with 23 points, while Bani Yas (20), Al Ain (19), Al Wahda (18) and Kalba (18) are not too far away waiting for any of the top teams to slip so that they can make their move.
However, Sharjah coach Abdul Aziz Al Anbari was confident they can wrap up 2020 on a positive note. “We have been preparing well for the match ahead. We all know that no team can be taken lightly this season as everyone is playing for the points and everyone wants to defeat us simply because we are the champions,” Al Anbari said at the pre-match meeting with media.
“We had an experience with Hatta last week and we are aware of what Ajman can do on their day, and we will be at our best to ensure we step into 2021 with three full points and our leadership in the league table,” he added.
“We are expecting a tough confrontation from Ajman and we hope the home advantage will add to our search for a positive result. offers with the teams presented, and I hope to achieve a positive result and level after a difficult match last week. It’s always more difficult and tricky to prepare for matches against lower teams like Hatta and Ajman. But we will do our best for the three points,” Al Anbari promised.
In other encounters on Thursday, Fujairah will host Khor Fakkan in the second early match, while Al Ain will play Al Jazira and Hatta will be at home in Kalba in the two late games.
On Friday, Al Nasr will be at home against Al Wahda and Bani Yas will take on neighbours Al Dhafra in the early matches, while Shabab Al Ahli Dubai will make the short journey across the creek to play Al Wasl.
Meanwhile, the UAE Pro League board has approved the 2020-2030 strategic plan, and the details are scheduled to be announced in the near future. Chaired by Abdullah Nasser Al Junaibi, the approval came during the board’s sixth periodic meeting held earlier this week.
The meeting also reviewed the UAE Pro League’s training programme for the current season along with a review of the marketing plan for the Arabian Gulf League Fantasy and the UAEPL’s official website.
The board further reviewed the preparations for the Arabian Gulf Super Cup match between Sharjah and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai that is scheduled to be held at Al Nasr Club’s Al Maktoum Stadium on January 22.
Fujairah v Khor Fakkan, 5pm
Sharjah v Ajman, 5pm
Al Ain v Al Jazira, 8pm
Kalba v Hatta, 8pm
Al Nasr v Al Wahda, 5pm
Bani Yas v Al Dhafra, 5pm
Al Wasl v Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, 8pm