After a lengthy break, all clubs will be out to make a further impression approaching the ‘Limitless Determination’ Round 10 of the UAE ADNOC Pro League later this week.
Al Jazira will be eager to put their title defence back on track as they host table-toppers Al Ain on Saturday, while Shabab Al Ahli will try to keep up the pressure on the early leaders as they travel across the Dubai Creek against Al Nasr, on Sunday in the two feature matches of the week.
Al Ain have been the early precursors of things to come as they stand atop the standings with 21 points from a possible 27 points in the nine rounds played so far. Al Ain have so far won six and drawn three – against Al Orooba, second-placed Al Wahda and Shabab Al Ahli.
At the end of the last round held at the beginning of November, Al Wahda powered their way to only their fourth win and continue breathing down the neck of Al Ain, with 17 points. Al Wahda and Al Ain are the only two teams presently without a single loss making them worthy challengers to the title this season.
But, Al Wahda will have to first circumvent a tricky opponent in Ajman on Sunday evening, knowing well that their opponents have been showing a lot of promise while winning against more fancied teams such as Al Nasr, Bani Yas, Sharjah and Al Jazira.
The highlight of Round 10 will be the Dubai derby featuring two of the most competitive rivals in UAE football. Al Nasr have shone in spurts – with wins against Sharjah and neighbours Al Wasl in more recent times, but losses against smaller teams such as Ajman and Ittihad Kalba.
However, to their credit Al Nasr have been emphatic every time they’ve won matches with Al Orooba the worst sufferers after that 5-0 mauling in Round 2, followed by a 4-0 drubbing of Emirates and identical 3-0 margins against Khor Fakkan and Sharjah.
Shabab Al Ahli, on the other hand, will be left to rue the fact that they have dropped vital points following 1-1 results against Al Orooba and Al Ain, goalless draws against Al Wahda and Ittihad Kalba and an away loss to Al Wasl in Round 6.
Round 10 proceedings will get under way on Saturday with Sharjah trying to put their campaign back on track against Khor Fakkan, while Bani Yas will host Al Orooba in the two early matches. In the late games, Emirates will be looking for their first points of the season as they host high-flying Ittihad Kalba, while fourth-placed Al Jazira battle against leaders Al Ain.
On Friday, 12th-placed Al Dhafra will host ninth-placed Al Wasl, while seventh-placed Ajman will make the long trip to second-placed Al Wahda in the two early matches, followed by the Dubai derby between Al Nasr and Shabab Al Ahli at 8.15 pm.