Mirko Vucinic worth his weight in goals to Al Jazira’s title charge — AGL talking points
Can Mirko Vucinic fire Al Jazira to the title? Why do Al Shabab always perform above expectation? And can Ajman seriously avoid the drop? John McAuley offers his thoughts on the latest talking points from the Arabian Gulf League.
Vucinic worth his weight in goals
With their league title hopes fading fast against Al Nasr on Sunday, Mirko Vucinic stepped up to breathe life back into Al Jazira’s campaign. The summer signing scored twice in seven second-half minutes to give the visitors the lead, then provided a beautiful assist for Jazira’s fourth as they rounded out a 4-2 victory.
No wonder coach Eric Gerets spoke so glowingly about Vucinic afterwards. The Montenegrin took his league tally to 23 goals in his debut season but, more importantly, he lifted Jazira back into second and pulled his side within four points of league leaders Al Ain. With six rounds remaining, Vucinic is integral to Jazira’s title tilt.
Shabab show the way
Although it lasted little more than a day, Al Shabab sat second in the table, the unlikely lads temporarily the most likely rivals to Al Ain for the league title. Saturday’s 2-0 victory at Sharjah stretched their unbeaten run to six matches and maintained Shabab’s improbable push for a top-three finish.
There is much to admire about the modest Dubai club. Without the resources to match their closest competitors, Shabab continue to climb. Stability has been important. Caio Junior may have replaced Marcos Paqueta as coach last summer, but he has already been handed a contract extension. It is well deserved.
Now or never for Ajman
Sunday’s loss to Al Wahda thrust Ajman even closer to Division One. They have lost 12 of 20 matches this season and lie 13th in the table. Fujairah’s victory at Kalba further darkened Ajman’s plight: with six rounds to go, they are eight points from safety.
To survive, they need to win three matches — a tough ask considering they have won only twice thus far. However, they face four of five sides directly above them. It is unlikely, but if Ajman are to stay in the top-flight, they begin the climb as soon as the league resumes.
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Published: March 23, 2015 04:00 AM