Arabian Gulf League lead hangs in balance for Al Wahda and chasing pack

Al Shabab could finish round in first place or fifth depending on result against Al Jazira

Mohamed Abdulrahman, left, of Al Ain jostles with Ismail Matar of Al Wahda during their Arabian Gulf League match at the Hazza Bin Zayed stadium in Al Ain on December 10, 2014. Satish Kumar / The National
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Week 12 of the Arabian Gulf League could be pivotal in the championship race as leaders Al Wahda look to maintain their narrow advantage at the top of the table.

As many as five teams have a chance of topping the standings when this round of league matches ends on Monday.

On Sunday, in-form Al Ain travel to Abu Dhabi rivals Baniyas, having dealt Wahda their first defeat of the season in the last round of matches.

Zlatko Dalic’s side have two games in hand on most of their rivals due to Asian Champions League commitments earlier in the season, and wins in both of them would send Al Ain four points clear.

Al Shabab are second only on head-to-head record to Wahda. They host third-place Al Jazira, who are just one point behind the leaders.

Such is the compacted nature of the table that Shabab could go top with a win or drop to fifth with a loss. Shabab also have a game in hand on their rivals, which is one of Al Ain’s postponed matches.

On Monday, Al Nasr, who are fourth on the same points as Jazira, have what should be a simple win at struggling Kalba. The league’s bottom side have lost 10 of their 11 games, drawing the other, and have only scored eight goals.

Then the heavyweight match-up of the round takes place at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi as Wahda, unbeaten at home, host the struggling champions, Al Ahli.

Defeat for the visitors would leave them nine points off the pace with one round of games to play before the AGL takes a break for January’s Asian Cup.

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