April 13, 2024


DUBAI: Relentless leaders Al-Wasl heaped stress on Cosmin Olaroiu’s underperforming Sharjah, Spain icon Andres Iniesta’s sinking Emirates Membership appeared doomed, and Farhad Majidi’s inconsistent Ittihad Kalba-reign was delivered to an ignominious finish throughout ADNOC Professional League’s matchweek 15.


Friday’s grandstand conflict in Dubai witnessed objectives from Abdulrahman Saleh and excellent UAE attacker Ali Saleh to take care of Al-Wasl’s grip on their first title since 2006-07 with a 2-0 triumph, whereas pushing star-studded Sharjah 13 factors off the tempo.


On the identical night, Tunisia playmaker Haykeul Chikhaoui’s ferocious opener despatched enhancing Ajman on their method to a 2-0 win which moved them 9 factors away from hazard and pushed Walter Zenga’s bottom-placed Emirates – enduring a 10-match dropping streak – eight factors from security.


Fellow promoted outfit Hatta confirmed combat in a 5-3 reversal at AFC Champions League quarter-finalists Al-Ain and third-placed holders Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai Membership required an instantaneous brace by substitute Yuri Cesar in an eventual 3-0 victory at 10-man Khor Fakkan.


Shambolic defending prompted Thirteenth-placed Kalba’s 2-1 loss to Al-Bataeh and was adopted by the exit of former Iran under-23 and Esteghlal boss Majidi after nearly two years on the helm. Ex-Brazil and Napoli defensive midfielder Allan netted an unlikely pair at hand Al-Wahda the Abu Dhabi Derby spoils in a pulsating 3-2 defeat for Mirel Radoi’s unconvincing Al-Jazira, whereas Alfred Schreuder’s flourishing Al-Nasr rose to sixth with a 1-0 triumph versus Baniyas – their fourth in 5 top-flight fixtures.


Listed here are Arab Information’ high picks and a speaking level from the most recent motion.


Participant of the week: Allan (Al-Wahda)


Al-Wahda supporters might have been tricked into pondering they’d landed Kaka, as an alternative of Allan.


Their skipper’s granite fame was earned by way of profitable numerous midfield battles in Serie A and the Premier League, reasonably than by means of artfully dispatched doubles.


Saturday’s sudden flip, nonetheless, made all of the distinction on dwelling soil after they welcomed floundering near-neighbors Al-Jazira to Al-Nahyan Stadium.


It was fairly the way in which to open his ADNOC Professional League account, after being recruited again in September 2022.


A deft dummied shot and incisive strike by means of quite a few flailing Delight of Abu Dhabi-defenders made it 2-0 on 41 minutes. The 33-year-old had additionally clipped within the Seventeenth-minute free-kick from which on-form Iran midfielder Ahmad Nourollahi finally back-heel half-volleyed the opener.


Even higher was to return previous the hour mark. By that time, a frantic derby had swung again towards the Delight of Abu Dhabi after ex-Fulham participant Neeskens Kebano struck twice to make it 2-2.


Allan’s stepover at tempo on the sting of the penalty field despatched retreating Moroccan teenager Mohammed Rabii off steadiness, previous to lashing into the roof of stranded UAE goalkeeper Ali Khaseif’s web. It was a becoming winner for a high-quality and high-drama conflict.


For fourth-placed Al-Wahda, January’s name to draft in former Ajman miracle-worker Goran Tufegdzic has been rewarded with seven factors from 9. Al-Jazira, in the meantime, are but to ignite since snaffling ex-Romania boss Radoi from Bataeh and slipped to seventh.


Objective of the week: Ali Saleh (Al-Wasl)


No matter problem is put in entrance of Al-Wasl, they have the firepower to beat it.


Their ninth win from their final 10 top-flight outings was sealed by homegrown hero Saleh.


The 24-year-old collected UAE colleague Caio Canedo’s flicked header, composed himself after which curled previous helpless Sharjah goalkeeper Adel Al-Hosani from 20 yards. It was a lovely method to produce a seventh aim contribution in 14 matches.


Al-Wasl stay answerable for their title future, eight-points forward of Al-Ain with a sport further performed. It additionally feels more and more perplexing why Saleh was handed simply 210 minutes on the way in which to the UAE’s dispiriting round-of-16 exit at 2023 Asian Cup.


Coach of the week: Daniel Isaila (Ajman)


A fantastic rescue job is being carried out by Daniel Isaila at Eleventh-placed Ajman.


Final season’s darkish horses in sixth spot had quickly declined to relegation certainties underneath Caio Zanardi. Friday’s consummate win towards Emirates featured 13 makes an attempt heading in the right direction to the guests’ three, even with Iniesta beginning within the league for the primary time since Dec. 1.


Isaila has remodeled horizons since October’s rent. The acumen which advanced outsiders Baniyas into shock 2020/21 runners-up has been transplanted at Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Stadium.


What to do with Olaroiu?


It’s not unfair, or unkind, to anticipate much more from fifth-placed Sharjah.


Their third league lack of a befuddling marketing campaign has stored The King distant from the crown. A factors deficit counted in double digits with 11 matches nonetheless to play was not anticipated when the 2023-24 season kicked off.


It’s an unbalanced group which is performing under the sum of their elements. Worryingly, serial trophy hoarder Olaroiu’s once-golden contact seems to be waning.


“I’m not the one who makes the selections relating to contracts with gamers,” was the Romanian’s pointed remark post-match, in accordance with Dubai Sports activities.


What occurs subsequent is the evident query.


Sharjah’s 11 at Zabeel Stadium contained ex-Barcelona and Juventus celebrity Miralem Pjanic, ex-Porto and Al-Hilal attacker Moussa Marega, 184-goal UAE veteran Sebastian Tagliabue, and South Korea’s World Cup 2022 performer Cho Yu-min. They boasted extra possession (55 p.c/45 p.c) and makes an attempt (14/12), but Al-Wasl’s better want proved essential.


Final season’s disappointing seventh-place end was forgiven, amid an unprecedented sweep of 4 home trophies. This time period, nonetheless, has been stained by group-stage collapse within the AFC Champions League, quarter-final elimination within the ADIB Cup, a 6-2 humiliation to Shabab Al-Ahli within the UAE Tremendous Cup, and failure to threaten within the ADNOC Professional League.


Schreuder’s ascendant Al-Nasr and Al-Ain await, both facet of the worldwide break. This could possibly be a state of affairs careering towards breaking level.