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Arabian Gulf League: Title race heats up as Sharjah, Al-Jazira and Bani Yas get set for business end of season

With just four matches to play the top three will be giving their all to mount an intense title charge…

The title race of the UAE Pro League is set to go down to the wire with just four matchdays to go. Sharjah FC, Al-Jazira and Bani Yas are locked in a close battle at the top of the table with just four points separating the top three. 

In fact, Sharjah and Al-Jazira are tied with 37 points from 17 games at the top of the table. This makes their next league encounter against each other on Friday more significant. 

The Spiders will hope to trap The Kings in their cob-web when they travel to the Sharjah Stadium. It will be a difficult task for Abdulaziz Al Anberi’s men to get the three points against Al-Jazira as they have not been in their best form in the recent past. In fact, they remain winless in the month of February. 

They started their rough patch by dropping points against seventh-placed Al Wahda, followed by a narrow loss to Al-Ain and in their last league fixture, they were held to a 1-1 draw by 10th place Al-Dhafra. 

Anberi must chalk out a blueprint to rescue his side from going further downhill to hold on to their top spot. Two (Al-Nasr, Al-Ahli) of their last three fixtures are against teams from the top half of the table, which further complicates their case.

However, since they won against Al-Jazira in the reverse fixture, a draw would suffice on February 26, as league standings will be decided on a head-to-head basis.  

Meanwhile, Marcel Keizer’s men have relatively easier fixtures than their immediate title contenders. In their last two games, they will be locking horns against bottom-placed Hatta and 12th ranked Al-Fujairah SC respectively. 

Al-Jazira are unbeaten in their last four games and have scored 17 goals. They defeated Al-Nasr 3-0, destroyed Al-Dhafra 5-1 and humiliated Al-Ittihad 6-0, before coming back from behind against Bani Yas with an injury-time equaliser. They are hitting the right notes when it matters the most and given their recent form, Sharjah must remain on its toes to contain the likes of Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkhout. 

Whereas Bani Yas, who are four points adrift the league leaders have had a mixed bag of results in this month. Apart from their draw against Al-Jazira, they lost their match to Al-Ahli, after winning two consecutive matches against Fujairah and Khorfakkan. 

They would next face Ajman who are fighting in the relegation zone, followed by an encounter against Al-Ittihad away from home. They would hope to pick up full points from these two games, as their last two matches are against formidable sides like Al-Nasr and Al-Ain. 

Nevertheless, a better head-to-head record against Sharjah FC will be some relief to coach Daniel Isaila. 

Striker Joao Pedro has been in fine form and has scored in his past three appearances. If he continues to fire on all cylinders in the remaining matches, the Sky Blues might end up winning their third league title, after a dismal 2019-20 season where they finished ninth. 

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