Al Wahda manager Vuk Rasovic says his side must beat Al Wasl to keep alive their Arabian Gulf League title ambitions.
Wahda are seventh in the league table on 27 points, 10 behind leaders Sharjah. They face an in-form Wasl, also on 27, in Dubai on Thursday with the hosts unbeaten in their last five games.
“It’s a very important game and important moment for us if we want to keep our slim hopes of remaining in the title race,” Rasovic said.
With nine rounds left after this Game Week the Serb hopes a win at the Zabeel Stadium will be a catalyst for good run-in with nine rounds remaining.
“The outcome of this game is critical for us," he added. "It can change the course of our league campaign. If we can win, it can make a lot of difference for the confidence for the team in the remainder of the league.
“Of course we are up against a strong side and they have the advantage of playing at home. Wasl are a well-disciplined side on the pitch with some outstanding foreign players but we are ready for them.”
He added: “It’s indeed a big game for us and we have prepared well. I’m confident my team will play their best game and return with full points.”
Elsewhere, Al Ain travel to Al Dhafra and Fujairah will be at home to Kalba in the Northern Emirate derby in the two early games.
Fourth-placed Al Ain are seven points off the summit. They travel to the Western Region on the back of victories over Sharjah and Fujairah.
On Friday, reigning UAE champions Sharjah and Al Jazira go head-to-head in top-of-the-table clash at the Sharjah Stadium.
Since running away with the lead, Abdulaziz Al Anbari’s Sharjah has picked up only two points from their last three games.
Sharjah and Jazira are tied on 37 points, with the former heading the league table by the virtue of a head-to-head record.
Baniyas will be hoping to maintain their third spot in the league when they meet Ajman at home while Al Nasr play Hatta at Al Maktoum stadium and Shabab Al Ahli host Khorfakkan in the other games.