Baniyas and Al Jazira, the top two teams in the Arabian Gulf League, face big tests when the teams return to action for matchweek 23 after the two-week international break.
Baniyas, who are on top of the table, travel to Sharjah while Jazira, a point behind them in second, will be at home to Al Wasl at Mohamed bin Zayed stadium on Saturday.
Jazira lost the lead after going down to Abu Dhabi rivals Al Wahda 2-0 and Marcel Keizer’s men cannot afford to drop more points at this critical stage with four rounds left.
“We are reaching the end of league season and every game is important for us, starting with the match against Wasl,” Keizer said at the pre-match conference.
“Wasl are strong opponents but we are ready for them on Saturday. We will play our own game.
“The players have been training well since they returned from the national team duty. We couldn’t do any tactical work on what we would be doing against Wasl but we still have a couple of days to do that.
“The squad has been together for a long time and it won’t take much time for them to adapt to the game plans.”
On Friday, Hatta make the long journey to Al Dhafra, Shabab Al Ahli will be at home to Fujairah, Wahda host Kalba and Al Ain meet Al Nasr at the Hazza bin Zayed stadium.
Dhafra can move to safety if they can win full points against Hatta, who can’t afford any slip-ups, while victory for Shabab Al Ahli will strengthen their chances of a top four finish.
Nasr (39) occupy fifth spot and they are two points ahead of the sixth placed Al Ain. Wahda are in seventh and full points against Kalba can also keep them in the race for a top four finish.