Do Al-Ahli Have What It Takes to Secure a First Podium Finish in Four Years?

Al-Ahli coach Matthias Jaissle has been widely regarded as one of the best coaching prospects in the old continent, thanks to his impressive stint with Austrian giants Red Bull Salzburg. Still, the coach has not enjoyed a very successful start to life in the Arabian Kingdom, but it is more of a success than a failure though.


The manager has had some ups and downs at the lead of the Saudi Royal Team this season, but the fact that Al-Ahli has just been promoted back to the top division must be weighing in that, and making it hard to see the club fight for the title right away, despite the world-class reinforcements.


The German gaffer is enjoying a successful run of form with The Greens, who have reached the podium of the Saudi Professional League and sit third. Al-Ahli returned from the break with a 0-0 draw to Al-Shabab before thrashing Abha 6-0, with Gabri Veiga and Feras Albrikan scoring braces and Franck Kessie adding a goal before halftime, whilst Riyad Mahrez put the cherry on top of the cake with a sixth goal.


Despite their disappointing draw against Damac in the 13th round of the Saudi Professional League and blowing a 2-goal advantage, Al-Ahli have seen themselves climbing to the 3rd spot of the SPL after the loss of Al-Taawoun against Al-Hilal. The elimination from the Saudi King’s Cup Round of 16 reportedly put the future of Jaissle in jeopardy, but his impressive league form should nevertheless keep him at the helm, having previously joined in the summer after a two-year spell in charge of Salzburg.


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As some Saudi pundits have previously agreed on, Al-Ahli are a work-in progress and are yet to be ready to be involved in the title race picture, and should they succeed in snatching a qualifying ticket to the AFC Champions League next season, it would make make it a fairly acceptable campaign. They find themselves third in the league, two points above Al-Ittihad, four behind Al-Nassr and 11 above Al-Hilal — only the top three qualify for the AFC Champions League Elite league stage.


With a squad boasting the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Allan Saint-Maximin, Gabri Veiga, Roberto Firmino, Edouard Mendy, and Franck Kessie, Al-Ahli have certainly invested heavily in the summer transfer window in an effort to return to the podium of Saudi football. They’ll be opening December with a visit from Al-Raed on December 9 before traveling to Al Feiha.



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