Al Ain and Al Shabab see Arabian Gulf League matches moved

Pro League Committee approves requests to accommodate UAE clubs' commitments in Asia, writes Amith Passela.
Omar Abdulrahman, the Al Ain playmaker, left, will likely enjoy some respite from the change in schedule. Marwan Naamani / AFP
Omar Abdulrahman, the Al Ain playmaker, left, will likely enjoy some respite from the change in schedule. Marwan Naamani / AFP

The Pro League Committee (PLC) has granted the requests of Al Ain and Al Shabab to have their final Arabian Gulf League fixtures brought forward 24 hours to help them prepare for their commitments in Asia.

Al Ain were to take on Al Wasl at Zabeel Stadium in Dubai on Saturday, with Shabab hosting Baniyas at the Al Maktoum Stadium the same day. Following the approval of the PLC, Wasl and Baniyas, both fixtures will be played on Friday to give Al Ain more time to prepare for their Asian Champions League (ACL) last-16 return leg against Al Jazira and Shabab’s second leg of the Gulf Clubs Championship against Omani outfit Saham.

Both games will be played on Tuesday.

Al Ain (sixth place) and Shabab (third) are chasing a top-four finish in the UAE domestic league, which will carry with it automatic qualification or a play-off place for next season’s ACL.

A win for Shabab on Friday could see them finish second, although they are dependent on other results, while victory for Al Ain could catapult them up to third if Al Jazira and Al Nasr fail to win their final fixtures.

“We are in two finals, this is the scenario for us,” Marcos Paqueta, the Shabab coach, said. “Both games are important but we will take one at a time and just concentrate in the first against Baniyas.”

Shabab’s hopes of reaching the GCC final were dented following a 3-1 defeat to Saham in Oman on Monday. Al Ain’s priorities are in the ACL, where they take Jazira back to Hazza bin Zayed Stadium with the advantage of two away goals after they won in Abu Dhabi 2-1 on Tuesday. They also have the President’s Cup final against Al Ahli on May 18 to prepare for.

“To preserve the advantage in the ACL and the cup final are the priorities, but that doesn’t mean we will go without the intentions of winning the match against Wasl. We have depth and we’ll use the fresh legs for a good result,” coach Zlatko Dalic said.

apassela@thenational.ae

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Published: May 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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