Arabian Gulf League 2020/21 permutations: Al Jazira and Baniyas battle for the title

A look at what's up for grabs in Tuesday's final round of matches

Baniyas, in black, trail AGL leaders Al Jazira, in white, by one point going into the final round of games. Courtesy PLC
Baniyas, in black, trail AGL leaders Al Jazira, in white, by one point going into the final round of games. Courtesy PLC

The 2020/21 Arabian Gulf League reaches a climax this week with Al Jazira and Baniyas locked in a close tussle for the title.

Marcel Keizer’s men (54) head the race by a point from their Abu Dhabi rivals Baniyas (53) with one round to play, and a win for Jazira against Khorfakkan at Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday would seal the club a third title.

However, if the 2016/17 champions either draw or lose, it provides Baniyas a chance to win a first ever top-flight crown, provided they defeat Al Wahda at home on the same night. Jazira hold the superior head-to-head record should the two teams tie on 54 points.

How they fared in the corresponding fixture this season

Jazira suffered a shock 3-0 defeat at Khorfakkan in their first meeting, but with the league title to play for, the capital club will be a super-motivated unit on their home turf. They have been beaten only once on their own patch this season, to Sharjah back in November. Khorfakkan, meanwhile, snapped a five-match losing streak last time out to defeat Al Wasl 2-1 in Dubai.

Baniyas outclassed Wahda 2-0 away from home in January, and host their Abu Dhabi rivals on the back of a 5-0 thrashing of Al Dhafra last week. Daniel Isaila’s side have dropped only four points at home in their past nine matches, while Wahda were held to a 2-2 draw in Dubai by Al Nasr on Friday - a fine result given their recent Asian Champions League commitments.

The battle for third

A point each separates Sharjah, Shabab Al Ahli and Al Nasr as they vie for the third position - and a possible route into next year’s Champions League.

In-form Sharjah (48) travel to seventh-placed Kalba, while Shabab Al Ahli (47) visit Nasr (46) in a crunch clash at Al Maktoum Stadium. Mahdi Ali’s team go there with plenty of confidence, though, having defeated Nasr in last month's Arabian Gulf Cup final. They are also unbeaten in 23 domestic matches.

The fight for survival

Hatta are bottom of the pile on 12 points and already relegated, making their game against the woefully out of form Al Ain a mere formality.

Ajman and Fujairah, in 12th and 13th respectively, are the sides left scrapping for survival, with the fixture list pitting the two against one another at Fujairah Stadium in Tuesday’s Round 26.

Both teams are on 15 points, although Ajman sit above the east coast club by virtue of their head-to-head record having won the corresponding fixture in January, 2-1. However, Fujairah do have a game at hand, to be played against Wahda, after their Round 24 clash was postponed after the Abu Dhabi club underwent a quarantine period following their Champions League group campaign in India. That rearranged fixture is scheduled for Saturday, meaning the relegation battle will stretch beyond Tuesday should Ajman fail to win.

Published: May 9, 2021 10:45 AM

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