Al Jazira celebrate AGL title with a 4-0 victory
Al Jazira were crowned 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League champions, ending their season with 68 points following their win against Al Dhafra at Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Al Jazira Football Company, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan handed the Arabian Gulf League shield to Al Jazira captain Ali Khaseif in the presence of Marwan bin Ghalita, President of the UAE Football Association, Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Pro League Committee and Saeed Al Tunaiji, Vice-President of the UAE Football Association as the goalkeeper lifted Al Jazira's second Arabian Gulf League title. Al Jazira finished off their title winning campaign in style thrashing Al Dhafra 4-0 in the opening fixture of round 26 to end their season with a full mark at home, winning 13 out of 13 in front of their home fans. Child Youssef Rami Antar was honoured ahead of the match as part of the "Tackling Thalassemia" initiative organised throughout the final league round by the PLC in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Company for Health Services (SEHA) through Khalifa Hospital in Abu Dhabi.
The Al Jazira faithfuls witnessed an electrifying atmosphere for the final match of the season with thousands welcoming the champions Jazira with loud chants, flags and scarves. The match kicked off to a quick start with both teams trying to break the deadlock early on. Al Dhafra attacked through the physically imposing Yassine Salhi and the pacey footed captain Abdulla Al Naqbi but they couldn't find the finishing touch to any of the moves. Mbark Boussoufa was central to every move made by Al Jazira, linking up with Leonardo Pereira and Ali Makhbout to a devastating impact. They found the break in 20th minute when Khalfan Mubarak won a free kick after Al Naqbi fouled him when he tried to dribble through. Fares Juma's header on goal from Boussoufa's curved free-kick was saved by Al Dhafra goalkeeper yet it fell on to the feet of Makhbout who tapped the goal in. The champions doubled their lead through another tap in, this time by Khalfan Mubarak, after Makhbout could not connect a beautiful cross from Boussoufa, the goalkeeper and defence left stranded when Mubarak tapped in at the far post in the 43rd minutes. The third goal came in the final seconds of the first half when Makhbout raced through the right flank, faked the goalkeeper and defence to slid the ball to Boussoufa at the far post who scored The Whites' third tap in of the day. Al Jazira continued to attack in the second half with a hunger of goals and added a fourth in the 65th minute when versatile full-back Salim Rashid turned provider. Playing as a right footed left back, Rashid sent in a cross to Khalfan at the far post which the latter controlled beautifully to lob the ball over goalkeeper for Makhbout to head the ball into the open net to complete the rout.