The Arabian Gulf League’s wheels resume turning after the international break with four games in matchweek 2 taking place on Friday.
The action gets underway on the east coast, where Ittihad Kalba host Emirates at 17:35 at Kalba Union Stadium. The Tigers are without a win this season; their 6-2 defeat at Al Wahda in their league opener cost coach Jorvan Vieira his job, and after collecting a point against Al Wasl in the Arabian Gulf Cup matchweek 1, Ittihad Kalba were beaten 4-1 by Ajman in their most recent outing in the cup.
Replacing Vieira is Fabio Viviani, the Italian is back for a second spell at the club he coached two years ago. He believes the Emirates match can help his side kick-start their season. “It is a very important match for us, our first home fixture in the league and one that can help us bounce back from the defeat against Ajman.”
Emirates, in turn, are winless too in their three matches this season. The Falcons started their league season with a 3-1 defeat at home to Al Ain, and their cup start wasn’t any better after losing to Al Nasr. Things picked up with a point against Al Jazira in their last appearance.
The second 17:35 kick-off brings together Dibba and Al Wahda at the former’s adopted home of Fujairah Stadium. The Sailors lost their league opener to Al Wasl 3-0 and face an uphill battle against last season’s runners-up.
Dibba Head Coach Paulo Comelli acknowledged the size of the task ahead, calling on his players to keep things tight at the back and play intelligently against an Al Wahda side he labelled as title contenders.
The Clarets travel east with the aim of extending their three match winning run, having started the league with the 6-2 thumping of Ittihad Kalba, before overcoming Shabab Al Ahli and Al Wasl 1-0 and 3-0 respectively in the cup.
Al Wahda Head Coach Laurentiu Reghecampf wants his side to keep their run going, insisting that his side can only win the title if they give their best in every match.
The pick of Friday games takes place at Khalid bin Mohammed Stadium, where Sharjah welcome Al Nasr at 20:15. The King’s last league outing saw them come away from Al Dhafra with an emphatic 4-0 win. Meanwhile, the Blues were stunned at home by Ajman in a 1-0 defeat in matchweek 1.
Sharjah bolstered their ranks with the addition of striker Mohammed Ebrahim from Shabab Al Ahli. Coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari expressed his satisfaction with the deal, which he called “A big addition to the team.” The former Sharjah midfielder is expecting a tough task against Al Nasr, describing the Dubai side as “A strong, organized unit, especially in midfield.”
Friday’s matches conclude at Bani Yas Stadium where the Sky Blues host Al Wasl at 20:15 in their first league game at home after promotion to the Arabian Gulf League this season.
The Cheetahs’ coach Gustavo Quinteros expects a tough match, “Our opponents have a strong team and have been getting some good result recently,”
In turn, Bani Yas played out a draw with fellow promoted side Fujairah. Their boss Krunolsav Jurcic says he watched more than one Al Wasl match and is prepared to face them. “Whether it’s Al Wasl or Real Madrid, we always want to win.”