Sharjah players attend a training session.
Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter
Al Jazira and Al Nasr will get the ball rolling to kick-start the Round 22 of the Pro League in a 10pm kick-off at the Mohd Bin Zayed Stadium on Friday.
Simultaneously, Bani Yas and Ittihad Kalba will also be in action in the second match of the day at the Bani Yas Stadium.
The morale of Al Jazira is high as they are coming into the match on the back of a victory against Al Wasl in their last round match of the league.
But Al Jazira coach Marcel Keizer predicted a tough match against a changed Al Nasr. AlNasr have shown a considerable improvement in their performance in the last few weeks.
“Al Nasr improved noticeably in the last couple of weeks and won some important matches while playing very well. Their team changed a lot after their activities in the winter transfer window. We will have to be at our best against them, and we will have to be focused and decisive in front of their goal,” said a wary Keizer.
Apprising about the availability and the fitness of the players, Keizer stressed that his team is fit and are raring to go.
“The players are in good shape at the moment but we will have to wait until the final training session before the game to decide who will be in the match line-up. Mohamed Al Attas is reaching his ideal fitness levels and getting closer every day to joining us in matches, and we are happy because he is an important player for the team,” he informed.
He also showed his discontent with the performance of his team so far in the league. Al Jazira are sitting at the sixth spot with 37 points, nine adrift of the leaders Shabab Al Ahli.
“I am not happy or satisfied with the results we got so far in this season, and of course with our current ranking in the league competition.
“We lacked consistency because we lost many points in matches where we were the better side, and for me, the negative points are bigger and more influential than the positives in our team this season.
“And except for reaching the semifinals of the ADIB Cup I can describe this season as a negative one,” lamented an unhappy Keizer.
Al Jazira are one of the best teams in the Pro League and are always the top contenders for the title. They usually finish in the top three. However, their AFC Champions League hopes are still alive if they can move up the table and finish in the top three.
Bani Yas will look to extend their winning streak against Ittihad Kalba after their thumping 4-2 victory over bottom-placed Al Dhafra.
Bani Yas are in the mid table with 22 points while Kalba are two places above in the eighth spot with 26 points. Kalba, who were beaten 3-0 in their last match against Al Nasr, will look to bounce back from the disappointment and put their campaign back on track.
Meanwhile, Al Ain will bid to consolidate their place in the standing with a victory over Khorfakkan. Al Ain played a goalless draw with Al Wasl in the first leg of the President’s Cup semi-final on Tuesday. They will be inaction again within 48 hours of their last competitive match.
Khorfakkan can capitalize on the fatigue factor of Al Ain. However, Al Ain coach Serhiy Rebrov ha slareday turned his focus to league. He also claimed to be satisfied with the performance of his team.
“I am happy with the team’s performance in the first leg match of the President’s Cup,” said Rebrov.
“The players showed a great desire to score, but they were not lucky enough to score, and the match ended with a goalless draw.”
“We are looking forward to our next game in the Pro League against Khorfakkan, who are a very strong team. We will not take them lightly,” he added.
In the other matches of the day, Sharjah will meet Al Dhafra, Ajman will take on Al Wasl and Shabab Al Ahli will face Al Bataeh challenge. Al Wahda’s game against Dibba has been postponed due to their international engagement.
Sharjah are brimming with confidence after their victory over Ajman in the first leg of the President’s Cup semi-final. Sharjah will also look to maintain the winning momentum against Al Dhafra, who are at the bottom of the table with just points and face relegation. Sharjah can leapfrog Al Ain, Al Wahda and Al Wasl if they can beat Al Dhafra and move into second place in the standings.