Al Ahli were on Friday celebrating their seventh Arabian Gulf League and second in three years after last season’s winners Al Ain suffered a shock loss to Fujairah on Thursday evening.
The Red Knights’ chairman, Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah, later congratulated Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Al Ahli, and Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Vice-President of Al Ahli.
The Dubai club’s triumph was confirmed when second-placed Al Ain were humbled 3-2 away to relegation-threatened Fujairah, meaning Al Ahli have an unassailable six-point lead over the Boss.
Al Ain have one game remaining, while Al Ahli were due to play their penultimate game of the AGL season Friday evening at home to Bani Yas.
A statement on the club website quoted Al Naboodah lauding the players, coach Cosmin Olaroiu and leading officials and said he was “thrilled and delighted” with the success.
It comes after Al Ahli finished a dismal seventh last season, one of the worst title defences in the professional era, and their seventh crown means they tie Al Wasl in second place in the roll of honour of AGL champions behind 12-time winners Al Ain.
Another milestone could yet be achieved, too.
If Al Ahli win their remaining two games, their final one being at home to bottom side Al Shaab a week on Sunday, they would attain a league-record 66 points.
For Al Ain, meanwhile, the fact that they did not ensure their rivals won the title on their own merit will be a source of bitter disaapointment.
They were left reeling by a rampant Fujairah side, who stormed to a three-goal lead after 73 minutes through goals from Christophe Mandanne, Rashid Jalal and Patrick Eze.
An Waleed Al Yamahi own goal five minutes from time was followed by a goal for Emirati striker Saeed Al Katheeri two minutes later, but Fujairah held on for a precious win.
The victory took them level with Sharjah and Emirates on 26 points, although Fujairah still occupy the second relegation spot.
Elsewhere on Thursday, Emirates finished their match against Al Jazira with nine men after Al Hasan Saleh and Rodrigo Pimpao were dismissed in a 4-2 home defeat.
Khalfan Mubarak opened the scoring and Ali Mabkhout took his season’s tally to 22 goals with a fine hat-trick.
Alasani Diallo had two goals for Emirates sandwiched in between.
The other two games on Thursday saw Al Wasl thrash Dibba 5-1 at home and Al Shaab hold Al Nasr to a 1-1 draw.
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