Al Shabab seek to consolidate position

Jaber al Ajmi –
MUSCAT, Feb 23 –
Leaders Al Shabab seek three points against Al Khabourah to maintain their top spot while second-placed Dhofar travel to face Al Suwaiq in the Omantel Professional League (OPL) week 16.
Al Oruba clash with the revitalised Fanja in the key clash of the week.
In the other fixtures of week 16 that will be played on Friday, Muscat meet Saham, Oman club face Al Nasr, Sohar host Al Rustaq, and Jalan travel to face Al Nahda.
There is no chance to lose any point if Al Shabab want to continue their hopes of being OPL champions for the first time ever, when they host Al Khabourah at Seeb Sports Stadium (17:30). Al Shabab have 32 points, just one point clear of Dhofar. The team hopes to continue their good show with the national manager Salim Sultan who replaced Waleed al Sadi, who moved to Omani national team as assistant coach.
Dhofar (31 points) will be on a date with relegation-threatened Al Suwaiq at Sohar Stadium (17:45). Despite the huge difference on the standing, it would be a tough tie for Dhofar, who know that Al Suwaiq have a good quality line-up who can stop any team.
Last Monday, Al Suwaiq drew 1-1 away against Iraq’s Al Zuwra in the first round of AFC Cup and they played very well compared to their weak performance against Fanja in OPL week 15. Dhofar who qualified to the His Majesty’s Cup semifinal, look in a good form under the new Portuguese manager Manuel Jose. It is a tie between the top and bottom as Dhofar battle for the title, while Al Suwaiq seek to move from relegation-zone.
Holders Fanja, who have gone six games without a loss this season, will be heavy visitors to third-placed Al Oruba (28 points). Last week, Al Oruba defeated Jalan 1-0, while Fanja got a convincing victory over Al Suwaiq.
Sohar, who failed to win any of the two games of the second stage of OPL, will have an opportunity to win against newcomers Al Rustaq at Sohar Stadium (20:30). Al Rustaq shocked Al Oruba in week 14 by defeating them away 2-1, but they lost 3-2 against Al Nahda at home.
In a crucial game, Muscat and Saham will be keen to continue their high quality show when they face off at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex at 20:30. Muscat hammered Al Nasr 5-1 last week in Salalah, while Saham made a very good start in AFC Cup opener as they edged Bahrani’s Al Muharraq 3-2. Hosts Muscat will be more required to win the game as they seek avoiding the danger zone.
As they lost in last three games in row, this week might be the last one for Al Nasr manager Abdulnaser al Makkis when they travel to meet Oman Club (17:30).
At the same time, Oman club who will meet Al Suwaiq in HM’s Cup semifinals, will hope to make a stop to their bad results in last OPL weeks. They have gone five games without a win, losing four of them.
Bottom-dwellers Jalan need a magical stick to stay in OPL next week as they strangely lose points; however, they play good football. This week they travel to meet Al Nahda who came back to Al Buraimi with full points last week after beating Al Rustaq 3-2.