A new league trophy is up for grabs with Al Khaldiya just one point away from winning the Nasser Bin Hamad Premier League title for the first time ... and just under three years after the club’s foundation in October 2020.
The Hamad Town-based team face tough-tackling Bahrain Club who are desperate for a win, as anything else would confirm their relegation to the Second Division next season.
As it stands, the league is topped by Manama, who drew 1-1 with fierce rivals Al Ahli on Sunday to move up to first in their final game of the season.
Manama and Al Khaldiya are currently tied on points with 41 each, with Manama leading on head-to-head victories.
In previous seasons, if the top two teams finished level on points, they would go on to face each other in a play-off to determine the champions. However, this season the title will be decided on a head-to-head basis instead, with Manama having the advantage due to defeating Al Khaldiya twice, 2-1 in January, and narrowly 1-0 in February.
Al Khaldiya’s advantage is having a game-in-hand, and a draw would be enough for the Super Cup winners to secure their first league title success.
Opponents Bahrain Club are currently 11th with 18 points and staring relegation in the face in what players and fans realise is a ‘must win’ match for them. However, even a victory may not be enough, as their fate may still rest on the outcome of the other match of the evening between East Riffa and Al Hala.
Heading into their final game, 2022 AFC Cup semi-finalists East Riffa sit ninth in the table and 2023 Kings Cup winners Al Hala in 10th place with 21 points each.
If that match ends in a draw, East Riffa and Al Hala end the season with 22 points each, guaranteeing Bahrain Club’s relegation regardless of whether or not they can muster a result against champions-elect Al Khaldiya.
Depending on goal difference, a win against Al Khaldiya could be just enough to move them up to 10th, in which case they will go through a relegation/promotion play-off against whoever finishes ninth, and promotion hopefuls A’ali and Al Ittifaq.
Last time they faced each other, Al Khaldiya defeated Bahrain Club 1-0 in December 2022, with Mahdi Humaidan securing the winner.
Al Khaldiya will be spearheaded by captain and Bahrain national team veteran striker Ismail Abdullatif, Bahrain’s all-time leading goal scorer, alongside other established national team players such as Sayed Dhiya and Mahdi Humaidan, who has notched 14 goals this season.
Bahrain Club will be dependent on their top scorer, Brazilian forward Joel Vinicius, who has amassed seven goals this campaign, as well as the likes of goalkeeper Yusuf Shabaan and midfielder Abdulrahman Ahmedi.
The Bahrain Football Association revealed the design of its new league trophy, a shield that will be presented to the winners along with a prize money pot of BD75,000.
View this post on Instagram