UAE’s World Cup march goes through Saudi Arabia; Dubai hosts Pakistan v West Indies: Five to watch this week
The UAE continue their quest for a place at the 2018 World Cup with a pivotal tie in Saudi Arabia. What else should UAE sports fans keep an eye on this week?
UAE World Cup qualifying, Tuesday, 8.45pm, BeIN Sports
• The UAE’s Road to Russia goes through Saudi Arabia this week in perhaps their most pivotal tie. Both sides are off to good starts through three matches in Group B. Saudi Arabia drew 2-2 with group favourites Australia to co-lead the group on seven points. The UAE are right behind with six points after three matches, including a 3-1 victory over Thailand last week and an opening win over Japan in September.
The top two in the group automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with the third-place side advancing to a matchup with a Group A qualifier, thus it’s possible both Saudi Arabia and the UAE advance. However, with Japan lurking and Australia holding tight to their perch, it’s likely one of the two Gulf sides can advance. They meet twice, and each tie will be crucial. As John McAuley reports, the UAE seem confident.
Pakistan v West Indies Test at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Thursday October 13-Monday October 17
• A huge Test series between two of the world’s best cricket sides begins in Dubai on Thursday. In anticipation, The National is running a five-part series looking at the rise of the Pakistani Test team, who are tussling with India for the top ranking. A win over West Indies in the UAE and Pakistan will likely reclaim the No 1 spot from India. The UAE have served as a home away from home for Pakistan, who haven’t played a series in their home country since 2009. As Paul Radley writes, the maths resulting in Pakistan’s rise is remarkable.
The two sides have been warming up for the three-match Test in Sharjah, with the West Indies in action against a Patron’s XI.
MLB play-offs ongoing
• It’s tough for Major League Baseball fans to keep up with their favourite teams in the UAE, with the games happening on a near-daily basis when most of us are asleep. By the end of the week, we should know the final four, as the National League and American League are playing their best-of-five Divisional Series, with the winners of each playing each other beginning next week in the Championship Series.
As of this writing, the Chicago Cubs were building on their successful regular season and chasing a historic, “curse”-breaking World Series win by taking a 2-0 series lead over the San Francisco Giants. The winner of that will play the winner of the Los Angeles Dodgers-Washington Nationals series, Game 2 of which was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew.
In the American League, both the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays were looking for sweeps of the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers early-morning Monday.
NHL season begins
• A nice break from the heat of the Arabian Gulf is watching ice hockey, a favourite sport of many North American expatriots. The sport’s biggest league, the Canadian and United States-based National Hockey League, begins its annual quest for the Stanley Cup this week. The National’s Rob McKenzie looks at the biggest questions surrounding the league this season, as well as the five most intriguing players to keep an eye on.
The league schedule begins on Thursday morning with four games, beginning at 3am when the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Ottawa Senators. The defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins play for the first time on Friday morning at 4am, in a premier matchup between two of the league’s best players: Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
Buy Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tickets
• The clock is ticking down to purchase your tickets to one of Abu Dhabi’s biggest annual sporting events, the Etihad Airways Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, set for November 25-27. It could be the coronation of a new champion, as Nico Rosberg upped his lead over teammate Lewis Hamilton in the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday. The race isn’t the only thing for fans, though, as the F1 race always brings with it a series of concerts, this year featuring Rihanna, Lionel Richie and The Chemical Brothers.
Visit the Yas Marina website for ticket packages while you still can.
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Updated: October 9, 2016 04:00 AM