New season kicks-off with six Arabian Gulf Cup clashes
After a long break that lasted over 100 days, Pro League competitions come to life again as the 2017-18 season kicks-off with 12 teams. The new season kicks-off with the first matchweek of Arabian Gulf Cup action on the 4th of September.
As per the new Arabian Gulf Cup format, teams have been split into two groups; Group A pits Al Jazira alongside Al Dhafra, Al Ain, Al Nasr, Hatta and Ajman while Group B beings Shabab Al Ahli Dubai face-to-face with Al Wahda, Sharjah, Al Wasl, Emirates and Dibba. The group stage takes place in a single leg round-robin system with each team playing five matches against the remaining group teams.
The competition starts with six fixtures; Al Ain welcome Hatta to Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium at 19:25 on Monday the 4th of September. A match that has been brought forward due to Al Ain's involvement in the AFC Champions League. The remaining matchweek 1 games will be played on the 8th and 9th of September. Friday the 8th sees three matches; Al Wasl host Dibba at 17:40 while Al Jazira travel to Al Dhafra fir 17:50 kick-off and Al Wahda host Shabab Al Ahli Dubai at 20:30. The following day rounds-off the matchweek with two fixtures; Sharjah host Emirates at 17:40 and Ajman are away at Al Nasr at 20:30.
The new season sees an important change to the cup competition as a quarter-final stage has been added; four teams from each group progress to the two-legged quarter-final. The semi-final follows the same format while the final will be a single leg played at a neutral ground.
The changed Arabian Gulf Cup format is expected to raise the level of competition in the group stage as teams battle out for eight chances to advance instead of four.
Teams have completed their preparations for the new season as they enrolled in domestic gatherings following their return from pre-season camps abroad where they played several preparation matches to reach peak forms. Several young talents are expected to feature in matchweek 1 in the absence of key players who are away on national team duty.