The title showdown in the Saudi Premier League
between Al-Hilal and Al-Ahli ended 0-0 on Saturday, meaning it all goes down to
the final game on Thursday. There is still plenty to play for, and plenty that
Arab News learned.
Al-Hilal the happier
After just two wins in the last eight games and
elimination from the AFC Champions League, Al-Hilalís confidence was low.
Consequently, a goalless draw at the home of title rivals is a good result and
it means that ďThe BossĒ still control their own fate: A win will deliver the
title. They could have won at Al-Ahli but will settle for doing it in front of
their own fans on Thursday.
Omar Al-Somah may have crossed the line
Al-Ahliís star striker has missed half the season
through injury but it is notable that he is still the second highest goalscorer
in the league. The Syrianís reaction to being taken off with 20 minutes
remaining was more striking, however. The star gestured in the direction of the
bench with the message clearly along the lines of ďwhat are you doing?Ē This
continued till he left the pitch, and as he crossed the white line. Coach
Sergiy Rebrov looked unimpressed. We have not heard the last of this.
Kanoo misses historic chance
Young midfielder Mohamed Kanoo has been a bit-part
player since arriving at Al-Hilal last year but had the chance to enter the
history books with the last kick of the game as he found himself one-on-one
with the keeper. The gangly second-half substitute slid the shot just inches
wide of the post. That came just seconds after Nicolas Milesi missed a good, if
slightly harder, chance. If Al-Hilal donít lift the trophy, minute 93 to 94 of
the penultimate game will live long in the memory.
Ali Al-Habsi still has it
The veteran ex-English Premier League star returned
to the league campaign in March and his experience played a part in a vital
point, as did his shot-stopping ability. Time and again the giant Omani was
called into action and pulled off a number of top-class saves. When the
pressure is on, the former firefighter can be counted on to save his team.
Itís not over
Fans in Saudi Arabia can enjoy a few more days of
excitement as the destination of the trophy will be decided on Thursday. Both
are at home but Al-Ahli really should beat already-relegated Ohod, who have
lost the last five. Al-Hilal will have to defeat Al-Fateh in fourth or they
wonít be champions. It will be far from easy and there could be a few twists
and turns yet. Ė AN