Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates – hosts of the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup which kicks off on December 6 – have healed after a poor start to their season locally with a vital win against Sharjah in the UAE Arabian Gulf League. Two goals from star striker Ali Mabkhout were enough to help bring Al Jazira back into the game after going 1-0 down, and enable them to grab the three points.
Nicknamed the Pride of Abu Dhabi by their fans, Al Jazira started their title defence of the AGL very poorly when they won only once in their first five games of the season, moving to as low as ninth place and near the relegation zone at one point. But, wins against Hatta, Emirates and Sharjah alongside earning two valuable points off Shabab Al Ahli and Al Ain were enough to propel Al Jazira back into fourth place. They now sit six points behind league leaders Al Wasl, who have 22 points.
This revitalization comes at an important time for Al Jazira who face Auckland City on Wednesday in the first round of the Club World Cup. If they do win, they will face Asian Champions League Winners Urawa Red Diamonds followed by Real Madrid if they manage to beat the Japanese side. Al Jazira currently hold the hopes of UAE fans everywhere in producing a good showing in front of the world in December.
The Pride of Abu Dhabi’s hopes will be mainly on Ali Mabkhout, the Emirati striker who scored two consecutive braces in the last two weeks to announce his return from injury in great fashion. The Brazilian Romarinho is also another attacking outlet that Al Jazira have to punish their opponents. On the defensive side it is former Al Ain defender Fares Juma, who has been compared to Sergio Ramos for his goalscoring abilities, who will be expected to shore up the backline against the likes of Emiliano Tade, Rafael da Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo.