Muscat, april 17 -
After a three-day break, ‘Derbies’ will be the order of the day at the Omantel League’s 17th week of matches today.
League leaders Al Suwaiq will take on Al Shabab at the Sohar Youth Complex while Salalah giants, Dhofar and Al Nasr will clash in the Southern Oman derby.
The North Al Batinah derby will be between Saham and Al Salam at Sohar Youth Complex while Muscat will meet neighbours Oman club in the capital derby at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
There will be important fixtures between Fanja and Al Oruba at Sur Youth Complex. Al Nahdha will host Al Mudhaibi at Al Buraimi Sports Complex, while Sohar travels to face Mirbat at Salalah Youth Complex.
The leaders Al Suwaiq will hope to expand their lead with Al Shabab and run away in the leading of the league table. Al Suwaiq have 41 points from 16 games while Al Shabab, who are second placed in the league, possess 35 points from the same number of matches in the second place.
Al Suwaiq’s Iraqi coach Hakeem Shaker started his second innings with the club with a 2-1 victory against Al Mudhaibi in the last round of the league. Shaker, who had coached Al Suwaiq to HM Cup victory last season, is considered as one of the giants among coaches in the Middle East and has long-standing experience in the game. On the other hand, Al Shabab believe this match is the only chance they have to stop Al Suwaiq in their tracks and narrow the gap.
“The team who wins the match today will be in the right track for the league title. Both teams have the best players. Al Shabab is one of the experienced teams in Omantel league and they were close to clinching the title many times in the last season,” Hakeem Shaker, head coach of Al Suwaiq team, said.
“Al Suwaiq is a tough team and have many stars of the national team. Although, we are facing difficulties with our players who are playing now in military league, our team is ready for today’s match,” Ali al Khanbashi, head coach of Al Shabab team, said.
Defending champion, Dhofar, will try to compensate for the previous defeats and open a new chapter starting with the derby clash against Al Nasr.
Although, Dhofar suffered a lot in the last rounds of the league, their position is currently quite weak.
Al Nasr would look to assert their superiority among the Salalah clubs and pocket three points. Hamza al Jamal’s battalion are ready to do well especially after a great comeback in the last match and drew 1-1 with Al Shabab in the last minute.
The sixth-placed Muscat team will face neighbours Oman club in the capital derby match. The first-leg of the match finished with a 1-1 draw. Ibrahim Sumar, Muscat’s head coach, will face his previous Oman club and will try their best to come out with three points and get away from the bottom area of the table.
Al Salam will be keen to keep their good run going when they face off with Saham. Al Salam had pulled off a thrilling win against Sohar in the previous round and will be looking to put pressure on Saham, who are struggling at the bottom, with two defeats and a draw.
Sohar will enter today’s match with the target of improving their position as they have just 16 points in their kitty. Their coach, Murad Mawlai, will know very well that any more losses mean the club would be close to being relegated to the first division league next season. Sohar’s task will not be easy as they face Mirbat at home with fans support.
Al Nahdha would look to get closer to the top three when they face Al Mudhaibi. They would be in good nick after their last win against Oman Club. Meanwhile, Al Sharqiyah giants, Al Oruba, will face Fanja at Sur Youth Complex. Al Oruba would be riding on the back of a 2-1 win against Dhofar and will have a chance to go level with Al Nasr in the points table with 25 points.