Good afternoon to one and all. On Tuesdays, what we’re going to do is have a regional round-up for the leagues that aren’t prestigious enough to have their own review as of yet. I jest, of course, all the leagues are prestigious enough, it’s that we simply don’t have the manpower as of yet, so a regional round-up will have to satisfy for the time being. Alternatively, if you’re reading this and you’re mad about Lebanese football, don’t be shy, get on board and you can do some work on that.
In this edition, we are looking at West Asia, namely, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Syria, UAE & Yemen. If that’s not enough for you, I’ve got one covering South East Asia coming after this. Get involved. To show that I’m not about favourites, I’ll go through this in alphabetical order, so if for whatever reason you’re only interested in football in Yemen, get your scroll on.
NBB Bahrain League
Bahrain’s domestic league finished last weekend and the last round of fixtures had little impact on the final league table. Going into the final set of fixtures, the title was already won by Bahrain’s most successful club, Al-Muharraq. They won the league by a staggering fifteen points which is made all the more incredible by the fact that they only play eighteen games in the league. On the final day of the season, they entertained Al-Ahli Manama who had to win to stand any chance of staying up; the champions showed no mercy as they came away 3-1 winners and sealed Al-Ahli’s fate.
East Riffa and Al-Riffa were the other two teams involved in the relegation dogfight and they would’ve been nervously checking the Al-Ahli score as they both fell to disappointing home defeats at the hands of Al-Ittihad and Al-Shabab respectively. Manama Club were the weekend’s big winners as they thumped Al-Hidd 5-1 to secure third place which doesn’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of things, thought I’d let you know all the same.
Here’s the full list of results:
Al-Ahli Manama (9th) 1-3 Al-Muharraq (1st) | Al-Najma (2nd) 3-3 Malkiya (4th) | Al-Riffa (7th) 2-3 Al Shabab (5th) | Manama Club (3rd) 5-1 Al-Hidd (6th) | East Riffa (8th) 1-2 Al-Ittihad (10th).
Iraq Super League
We join the Iraqis at a fantastic time as their league is little over halfway through so while we’ll have to wait for the re-emergence of the Bahraini league, we have no such trouble with the Super League in Iraq. Last season’s cup winners, Al-Zawraa, sit prettily at the top of the table, yet they could only manage a one-nil win over basement side Karbalaa. They sit five points ahead of Al-Shorta, who also came away with a narrow victory of their own away at second-bottom Zakho.
It’s worth noting that the majority of the games (all bar two), were decided by the odd goal which suggests that the league is quite tight, however, the gap between fourth-placed Al-Naft and fifth-placed Al-Najaf is ten points which isn’t massive, but I’ve got a feeling it will end up bigger than that come the end of the season.
Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya came away with the biggest victory as the third-placed side went to Al-Talaba, scored four goals, conceded none and laughed all the way home. Without further ado, here are the results in all their glory…
Al-Talaba (13th) 0-4 Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (3rd) | Al-Bahri (17th) 1-1 Al-Minaa (12th) | Al-Zawraa (1st) 1-0 Karbalaa (20th) | Naft Maysan (10th) 1-2 Naft Al-Junoob (7th) | Al-Samawa (15th) 1-1 Al-Sinaat Al-Kahrabaiya (14th) | Zakho (19th) 1-2 Al-Shorta (2nd) | Al-Hussein (16th) 2-1 Al-Hudood (9th) | Al-Diwaniya (18th) 0-1 Naft Al-Wasat (8th) | Al-Najaf (5th) 2-0 Al-Kahrabaa (6th) | Al-Naft (4th) 2-1 Amanat Baghdad (11th).
Jordan Premier League
Before you start worrying, don’t. This league has nothing to do with Katie Price. Believe me, if it did, I wouldn’t touching it with a barge pole. Anyway, back on point. I’m not entirely sure what’s happened with this league as they haven’t played a full round of fixtures since the middle of March. One of the reasons why it’s more confusing is that there are only three games left!
While the internet is normally useful, I can’t uncover anything too untoward that’s happened in Jordan, so it seems like they’ve just taken a few weeks off. Tidy. It resumes this weekend with the possibility of the title being sewn up by Al-Wehdat. If they beat Shabab Al-Aqaba at home and Al-Faisaly get anything other than three points at home to Al-Ahli then that’s it all done and dusted.
At the opposite end of the table, the relegation battle is one that has to be watched very closely as with three games left a staggering 58% of the sides can still fall out of the Premier League. We’ll touch base next week and discuss what’s happened.
VIVA (Kuwait) Premier League
Unfortunately, we’ve just missed the conclusion to the Kuwait Premier League which meant that we missed the relegation final-day showdown between Al Naser & Al-Jahra. Going into the final day, either one of them could fall into the relegation play-off spot, however, Al-Jahra had the tougher task on their hands as they faced second-placed Al-Salmiya. When Al-Jahra went a goal down, they must’ve feared the worst, nonetheless, a brace before the interval from Cameroonian front-man Roland Ngah put them back in pole position.
After the interval, Al Naser went a goal up and when their opponents, Al-Arabi were reduced to ten men, Al-Jahra’s fate was practically sealed. Both games ended with identical scorelines, 3-1 which meant that despite Al-Jahra having a superior goal difference, they were condemned to the relegation playoff spot by virtue of a poor head-to-head record against Al Naser.
To be fair, it didn’t make the blindest bit of difference as Al-Jahra won the playoff 6-0, with all the goals coming in the second-half. I want some of whatever is in their halftime oranges. Al-Kuwait or Kuwait Sporting Club, dependant on who you ask, won the league by a massive sixteen points. Not bad considering there are only eight teams in the league.
Alfa Lebanese Premier League
We’re not having a great deal of luck here as the Lebanese league has just finished as well. As is becoming a bit of a pattern, the title was sewn up before the final day as Al Ahed put the icing on the cake as they beat second-placed Nejmeh SC 3-1 in their own backyard.
Once more, the action is at the other end as Al Shabab Al Arabai and Al-Nabi Shayth went into the final day not knowing where they would be playing their football next season. Al-Nabi Shayth done their bit as they demolished Al Islah by four goals to nil meaning that Al Shabab Al Arabi had to win away at Tripoli SC. In a tightly contested game, Al Shabab Al Arabi came away eventual 4-3 losers which means they’ll have to prepare for life in the second tier next season.
Omantel Professional League
Finally, a league that’s still going again! There’s only one place to start as first-placed Al Suwaiq entertained Al Shabab who sit second, before the game, there was only six points between them which tells you that if Al Shabab got all three points, it would’ve made it quite interesting for the last nine games. They didn’t. Nine points is now the gap that Al Suwaiq now have over their closest challengers and it would take a brave man to back against them winning the title from the position that they find themselves in now.
As mentioned, nine points is the gap between first and second. Extraordinarily, there are only nine points between the bottom ten as the relegation battle really does heat up as the season enters the home stretch. Mirbat were the big movers as they jumped to 9th with a 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Sohar, who actually sit bottom of the table. One other thing worth keeping an eye on is the race for third as three points separates three sides. We’ll look at that more in-depth next week.
Al Orouba (5th) 0-1 Fanja SC (6th) | Muscat (7th) 2-2 Oman Club (12th) | Al Salam (8th) 0-0 Saham (11th) | Mirbat (9th) 2-1 Sohar (14th) | Al Nahda (4th) 3-1 Al Mudhaibi (10th) | Al Suwaiq (1st) 3-1 Al Shabab (2nd) | Dhofar (13th) 2-3 Al Nasr (3rd).
Gaza Strip League (Palestine)
We’ve missed this one as well. Sigh. The stats you need to know about this one is Shabab Khan Younes won the league by five points from Khadamat Rafah, no final day drama here regarding the title. For once, there wasn’t a great deal going on at the other end either as Al-Qadisiya and Al-Ahli Gaza were relegated with games to spare.
Something worth noting with this particular league is that the most goals scored by any one team was thirty-six (Shabab Khan Younes) and the most goals conceded was forty-five (Al-Ahli Gaza) and considering the league has twenty-two games, there’s not a lot of goals going in at either end.
West Bank League (Palestine)
Unlike the Gaza Strip League, we join the West Bank League at an epic time because there are only two games left and while the two relegated teams were confirmed a long, long time ago, the battle at the top is still alive & kicking with Hilal Al-Quds and Ahli Al-Khalil only separated by three points.
Considering there’s nothing else worth looking at, we’ll focus our attention on the aforementioned top two; Hilal Al-Quds made light work of fourth-placed Jabal Mukabar as they came away two goal winners which put the ball firmly in Ahli Al-Khalil’s court. They responded how a good team would, by winning. Three goals away from home ensured that Ahli Al-Khalil took all three points as they kept Hilal Al-Quds firmly in their sights. All to play for this weekend.
Shabab Al-Khadr (11th) 1-3 Ahli Al-Khalil (2nd) | Shabab Al-Bireh (6th) 2-1 Shabab Al-Thahriyeh (9th) | Shabab Al-Khalil (3rd) 1-0 Shabab Al-Smoa (5th) | Jabal Mukabar (4th) 0-2 Hilal Al-Quds (1st) | Duwwara (12th) 0-3 Thakafi Tulkarm (7th) | Wadi Al-Neiss 3-2 Markaz Balatah (10th).
Syrian Premier League
With all the uproar around the UK ‘engaging’ with Syria, I can’t tell you how happy I am that the football season is still carrying on like nothing is going on (touch wood). The majority of the sides have got four games to left to play and with there still being unfinished business at both ends of the table, I’m thoroughly looking forward to the closing stages of the Syrian Premier League.
Al-Jihad are already relegated, although, they did get their second win of the season at the weekend versus Al-Shorta, a bit late for you turn up lads, I’ll be honest. Al-Jihad are one of the sides with only three games left and considering they are thirteen points from safety, that’s why they’re down. Quick maths. Bosh. Al-Herafyeen got a vital point in the battle for survival away at second-placed Al-Jaish (more on them shortly). Sandwiched between Al-Jihad and Al-Herafyeen is Al-Muhafaza and they are three points behind the latter with four apiece left to play.
Up at the top, going into the last set of fixtures, Al-Ittihad and Al-Jaish couldn’t be separated on points, however, as we’ve just touched on, Al-Jaish could only manage a draw against lowly Al-Herafyeen which meant that when Al-Ittihad got all three points against Al-Wathba, a gap appeared. Two points is the gap now. It’ll be intriguing to see how it all pans out at both ends of the table.
Al-Wahda (3rd) 0-1 Al-Taliya (5th) | Al-Jaish (2nd) 1-1 Al-Herafyeen (12th) | Al-Jihad (14th) 2-1 Al-Shorta (6th) | Al-Karamah (9th) 0-0 Tishreen (4th) | Al-Nawair (7th) 2-1 Al-Muhafaza (13th) | Hutteen (10th) 0-0 Al-Majd (11th) | Al-Ittihad (1st) 2-0 Al-Wathba (8th).
Al Ain sealed the title last time out as they trounced Al Nasr 4-0 which saw Marcus Berg keep us his quite frankly ridiculous goal scoring streak. He’s now scored TEN in his last four. Staggering. That coupled with second-placed Al Wahda’s shock home defeat against Ajman meant that Al Ain ruled supreme in the United Arab Emirates once more. It’s not all over just yet, mind. There’s still one set of fixtures left and with one relegation spot and one AFC spot to be decided, it’s not quite time to close the book on this season just yet.
It is between Al Wasl and Al Nasr for third place and the smart money would be to back the team who already occupy third, Al Wasl as they face a Shabab Al Ahli Dubai side who have got nothing to play for whatsoever; the same can’t be said about Al Nasr’s opponents, Emirates Club. Emirates need a win to stand any chance of surviving. Al Dhafra are the other team in the mix for relegation and considering they face Al Ain, it doesn’t look too good. Wouldn’t surprise me if they both lost.
Al Dhafra (10th) 1-2 Shabab Al Ahli Dubai (5th) | Dibba Al-Fujairah (9th) 1-0 Emirates Club (11th) | Al Wasl (3rd) 2-0 Hatta (12th) | Al Wahda (2nd) 2-3 Ajman (8th) | Al Nasr (4th) 0-4 Al Ain (1st) | Al Jazira (6th) 3-1 Sharjah (7th).
Yemen Division 1
This is going to be the shortest one by a country mile. There’s been no football played in Yemen since 2015 due to the civil war. Need to take a leaf out of the Syrians books if you ask me and just crack on. So nothing I can bring you on this at the moment, nevertheless, if anything changes, I’ll let you know.
So, after all of that, I hope you’ve fucking learned something as I know have, several times over. I’m going for a lie down.
Until the next time.