Arabian Gulf League: Al Shabab v Al Ain

Last Friday I decided to head out to the Arabian Gulf League (AG League) game between Al Shabab and Al Ain.

Entry was free and from where I was seated I had the perfect view of the entire pitch. The attendance was 3000+ (according to the announcer) and the atmosphere was fairly good!

Below are just my conclusions from the game (both on the pitch and off it)

  • The referee was awful. Even the Shabab manager Caio Junior was visibly frustrated with the officiating. Every single decision was going in Al Ain’s favour and that isn’t even an exaggeration.
  • Carlos Villaneuva was non-existent. Hardly touched the ball in the first half and only decided to play once it became 4-1 and Al Ain looked to slow the pace of the game.
  • Luvannor Henrique on the other hand did try.  All of Shabab’s positive attacking movements were going through him, but sadly the lack of quality in the rest of the side was telling.
  • Jo Alves is a good player but very limited. He took his goal well mind you.
  • Caio Junior loves his wing backs. Both of them were getting forward virtually throughout though their crossing was suspect.
  • Omar Abdulrahman is an absolute joy to watch in person. Everything Al Ain did went through him. His starting position was wide right but he would come in centrally dictate the play. His passing and demeanor on the ball reminds me a lot of Juan Mata.
  • His starting position was alongside Emmanuel Emmenike, so Al Ain were playing a sort of 4-3-3/ 4-3-1-2.  Wherever he played it was an absolute joy to watch.
  • Felipe Bastos can hit a football.
  • The Al Ain fans were magnificent, the atmosphere they created deserved a good performance from their team (which they got).
  • There needs to be more done to get the expat community into the stadium, I know this rhetoric is uttered every single week but the atmosphere of the games and the growth of the league would benefit greatly. Work needs to be done on both sides, making the stadiums friendlier to visit (which in fairness I got in with ease for my first time at Maktoum bin Rashid stadium) and also the football interested expat community should make an effort to attend the matches.
  • The referee was bad.

Shame it ended 4-1 to Al Ain but they are going to win the title this season. Of that I have little doubt.

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