Depleted Al Wahda are facing an uphill struggle to secure second place in the Adnoc Pro League when they take on Al Nasr at the Al Nahyan Stadium in their final game of the campaign on Wednesday.
The Abu Dhabi club are third in the table, two points behind Sharjah who face champions Al Ain at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium 24 hours later in a game that brings the season to a close.
But Wahda go into their game hugely under-strength. Goalkeeper Mohammed Al Shamsi, winger Tahnoon Al Zaabi, and midfielders Abdullah Ahmed and Khalil Ibrahim are all joining up with the national team squad for next month’s World Cup qualifying play-off against Australia.
They will also be without Portuguese pair Fabio Martins and Adrien da Silva who are both are serving one-match bans.
Wahda manager Gregory Dufrennes admitted: “We are missing a lot of players but we are ready for the challenge to finish the league with a win.
“This is the last and a very important game in the league for us and we want to finish in a positive way.
“We are still looking and chasing for the second position but unfortunately it’s not in our hands. Firstly, we need to win against Nasr and then we’ll need a favourable result from the Al Ain game.
“If we don’t finish second, we will not have any regrets because it has been a fairly good season for us.
“Nasr are a good side and we know they have quality players in every line, particularly in their attack, and are ready for this challenge.”
Also on Wednesday, Al Dhafra meet Al Orooba in a relegation battle at the Hamdan bin Zayed Stadium while Al Wasl host Al Jazira in a dead rubber at the Zabeel Stadium.
Dhafra sit third bottom of the league, one place and three points ahead of Al Orooba who occupy the last of the relegation slots. Emirates, in last place, were relegated last week after losing to Orooba.
Badereddine Drissi, the Dhafra manager, is hoping his team have gained some momentum after beating Nasr 2-1 in their previous game.
“That was a massive confidence booster and we hope to carry that momentum forward for this very important game against Al Orooba,” the Moroccan said.
“The players showed a lot of character to win this game and very confident to replicate that performance. Of course this is a pressure match, not only for us, but for them as well.
“I urge our fans to come in numbers to be behind us. We need every support and encouragement we can get.”