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Al-Hilal still in the driving seat as Saudi Pro League title goes down to the wire

Al-Hilal still in the driving seat as Saudi Pro League title goes down to the wire

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-Hilal’s confidence was low. Consequently, a goalless draw at the home of title rivals is a good result and it means that “The Boss” 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-Ahli’s 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 Syrian’s 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 “what are you doing?” 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 don’t 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.

It’s 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 won’t be champions. It will be far from easy and there could be a few twists and turns yet.


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