Dubai World Cup, UAE v Palestine in 2018 World Cup qualifying – five things to do this week

Mahdi Ali’s men continue their quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup with a home match against Palestine in Abu Dhabi and California Chrome attempts to go one better than his second-place last year in the US$10 million (Dh36.7m) Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race.

FOOTBALL: UAE v Palestine, 2018 World Cup qualifying, Abu Dhabi, Thursday, 7pm

The first of a double-header at home that will determine whether the UAE advance to the third round of Asian World Cup qualifying. Mahdi Ali’s men host a Palestine side that were more than a match for them when they met last September, earning a 0-0 draw in Al Ram. The UAE realistically need to beat Palestine on Thursday and then Group A leaders Saudi Arabia when they visit the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium five days later to advance to the next round. With Ahmed Khalil, Asia’s Player of the Year for 2015 who has scored six goals in as many qualifying games, and Ahmed Ali, who has five, being supplied with ammunition by Al Ain playmaker Omar Abdulrahman, the Emirates will hope they have the firepower to secure the six points needed to progress.

CRICKET: Australia v Bangladesh, World Twenty20, Bangalore, India, Monday, 6pm, OSN Sports

Both Australia and Bangladesh will be looking for their first wins at this year’s World Twenty20 when they pad up in Bangalore after suffering chastening defeats in their Group 2 openers, to New Zealand and Pakistan respectively. Australia have never won the shortest format’s world title, and will be targeting two points against Bangladesh with ties against Pakistan and hosts India still to come. Australia were undone by New Zealand captain Kane Williamson’s inspired selection of three spinners in Dharamsala last week, but with Bangladesh hampered by the ICC’s decision last week to suspend Bangladesh left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny, as well as pacer Taskin Ahmed, after their bowling actions were found to be illegal, their batsmen are unlikely to face the same pressure they did against their Tasmanian neighbours.

TENNIS: Abu Dhabi Wilson Tennis Cup, Zayed Sports City, until Friday

Twenty divisions will feature in the Open and Cup categories, for children and adults. It is the only tournament that allows athletes to enter into multiple divisions, separating men, women, boys and girls by both age and skill. The Abu Dhabi Wilson Tennis Cup takes place at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City, with eight practice courts and one main court, where the final will be played on Friday.

HORSE RACING: Dubai World Cup, Meydan Racecourse, Dubai, Saturday, gates open 2pm

America will provide five of the 12 runners in the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race. California Chrome, who was second to Prince Bishop in the US$10 million (Dh36.7m) event 12 months ago, will line up alongside fellow US raiders Frosted, owned by Godolphin, and Keen Ice at Meydan. They will be joined by Bob Baffert’s Hopportunity, and Todd Pletcher’s Mshawish as America attempts to win its first World Cup on dirt since Well Armed was a runaway winner at Nad Al Sheba in 2009. In all nine races will be staged at Meydan. Sole Power is back to defend his crown in the Al Quoz Sprint, but Solow has been ruled out of the $6 million Dubai Turf.

BUY TICKETS: Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, November 25-27, Yas Marina Circuit

With Nico Rosberg having won the season-opening race in Australia on Sunday, it means the Mercedes-GP driver has won the last four F1 races, including last year’s finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Will the German still be in the title hunt come November? Let’s hope so. Book your tickets now for the early bird 30 per cent discount. Prices range from Dh625 for Abu Dhabi Hill general admission two-day tickets to Dh4,685 for Al Jood Main grandstand tickets for all three days.

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