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Nasr, Ittihad clash in headline match.

Byline: Naif Muhammad

JEDDAH: There will be no crowd support for either side as Al-Nasr hosts Al-Ittihad in a closed-door match today headlining the fourth round of the Saudi Professional League.

Nasr was made to play its home game in Riyadh restricted to fans as punishment for the mayhem that occurred during its third round match against Al-Ittifaq in Dammam last week.

The match is indubitably important for both teams occupying the top two places in the team standings.

Nasr, in second place with 7 points, could topple Ittihad (9 points) off the spot with a victory. The Jeddah-based Ittihad could play conservative football and still keep the lead in the 12-team field with a draw although an away victory is a better option as it will further solidify its lofty position and ratchet up the pressure on its pursuers.

Al-Shabab and Al-Hilal are the two teams right behind Ittihad and Nasr in the standings and both are to benefit too if the Riyadh derby ends in a draw.

Abha hosts Al-Wehda of Makkah in Abha, looking to follow up its surprise 1-1 draw against Al-Ahli in the third round. While Abha is upbeat Wehda enters the match still smarting from a 4-2 defeat against Shabab.

Al-Raid travels to Al-Rass for the match against Al-Hazem.

Meantime, Ahli fears another Najran surprise when both come face to face at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal stadium in Jeddah. Najran surprised everybody after winning against Hilal 2-1 in round three.

With its army of loyal fans, Ahli, however, should be able to deal with Najran and pick up the game's three points.

In what is expected to be a no-quarters-asked-nor-given match, Shabab battles Ittifaq. This is a must-win game for both sides as they try to improve their rankings. The last match of this round pits winless Al-Watani of Tabuk and Hilal which is widely tipped to recover from the defeat by Najran.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Geographic Code:7SAUD
Date:Oct 8, 2008
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