Where to watch: Gulf Cup stars resume Pro League duty
As the UAE’s 2013 Gulf Cup triumph is consigned to memory and the celebration of international success subsides, domestic action resumes and the Pro League will once again take centre stage this weekend.
The 14th round of league fixtures scheduled for Monday and Tuesday were postponed, so this weekend will be the first time we will see the UAE’s Gulf Cup heroes in action for their clubs since returning from Bahrain with the trophy.
The pick of the action will arguably be found at the Mohammad bin Zayed Stadium as second-placed Al Jazira host third-placed Al Ahli. Aside from this clash playing a huge part in both side’s title ambitions, there will also be a plethora of Gulf Cup stars on display.
From the hosts, UAE goalkeeper Ali Khaseif, who was superb in the final against Iraq, will take his place between the posts, while midfielder Khamis Esmail, and forward Ali Mabkhout are also expected to make their way onto Paulo Bonamigo’s teamsheet.
Gulf Cup top-scorer Ahmed Khalil will be part of the travelling party but it is unclear whether his fine form at the tournament will be enough to force himself into contention. The UAE striker has found chances limited this season due to the form of captain Grafite and it will be interesting to see if Quqie Sanchez Flores finds a place for him in his team.
As well as Khalil’s presence, full-back Abdulaziz Sanqour and forward Ismail Al Hammadi, who scored the decisive goal in the final, are expected to start.
Elsewhere, Player of the Tournament and the UAE’s golden boy, Omar Abdulrahman, will be in action for Al Ain as the league leaders host Ajman, while defender Mohamed Ahmed will surely take his place in the back-four.
Al Nasr will make the short trip to Dubai rivals Al Wasl and will welcome back their own Gulf Cup hero, midfielder Habib Fardan; their solitary UAE representative.
Meanwhile, Al Wahda will hope national captain Ismail Matar and fellow stars Hamdan Al Kamali and Saeed Al Kathiri can help them to a much-needed three points when they travel to Al Shabab.
Finally, Bani Yas will be welcoming back their Gulf Cup hero, young midfielder Amer Abdulrahman, as they make the trip to Ittihad Kalba.
The fans of the Pro League will be glad to see it back underway after its four-week winter break, and the presence of UAE’s Gulf Cup heroes will surely only add to the excitement at it’s return.
We have provided a full schedule of fixtures, so get yourself down to the stadium and cheer on you nearest team.
Saturday, January 26
Al Ain vs Ajman (5.15pm) – Tahnon bin Mohamed Stadium
Al Shabab vs Al Wahda (5.15pm) – Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium
Ittihad Kalba vs Bani Yas (5.10pm) – Kalba Union Sports & Cultural Club Stadium
Al Wasl vs Al Nasr (8.00pm) – Zabeel Stadium
Al Jazira vs Al Ahli (8.00pm) – Mohammad bin Zayed Stadium
Sunday, January 27
Al Dhafra vs Dibba Al Fujairah (5.25pm) – Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Stadium
Dubai vs Al Shaab (8.00pm) – Dubai Sports & Cultural Club Stadium