RIYADH: The Riyadh rivalry between Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal has an extra prize at stake, with their star strikers battling to be crowned the Saudi Pro League’s (SPL) top scorer this season.
Al-Nassr’s Moroccan striker Abderrazak Hamdallah currently leads the way with 25 goals, but is followed closely by Al-Hilal and French goal machine Bafétimbi Gomis with 21 goals.
Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr have both had exceptional seasons in the SPL, maintaining their solid positions at the top of the table in a similar fashion to the way they ended the 2018-2019 campaign.
This dominance is largely thanks to their lethal attacking force, led by seasoned goal scorers Gomis and Hamdallah.
Both strikers made their transfers to the Saudi league in the 2018 summer transfer window. Gomis, 35, arrived at Al-Hilal from Turkish giants Galatasaray after scoring an exceptional 29 goals in 34 games to guide the Istanbul team to the Süper Lig title.
Hamdallah, 29, arrived with a similar record, having scored 28 goals in 30 games for Qatari side Al-Rayyan.
Both of their performances in the 2017-2018 season earned them their move to the SPL and they haven’t looked back since, with the Frenchman and Moroccan finding the back of the net 42 and 59 times in the league respectively.
During the 2018-2019 season, Al-Nassr’s number nine broke the all-time SPL record of the highest number of goals in a single season by scoring a staggering 34 goals, earning him the Golden Boot award.
The closest competitor to him was none other than Gomis, with 21 goals.
This season, however, the competition has been a lot stronger and is a close reflection of the tight title race between Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr.
Al-Ahli striker Omar Al-Somah has also been in contention throughout the season and, if his recent form is anything to go by, he may be looking at increasing his 18-goal tally in the remaining three rounds of the league.
The two players differ starkly when it comes to shot attempts on goal. The ex-Moroccan international totals the highest number of shots all season (142), 61 of which were on target. Meanwhile ex-Swansea City striker Gomis comes in at seventh position with just 68 shots, over half (38) of which were in between the sticks.
Both have three more matches remaining to claim the title of top scorer. Al-Nassr face Al-Fayha at home before traveling to Jeddah to take on in-form Al-Ittihad, ending the season at the King Fahd International Stadium against Al-Ettifaq.
Al-Hilal will be hoping to cement their six-point lead at the top of the table with a home match against Al-Hazm, a difficult trip to Makkah against Al-Wehda, and a final day match-up against Riyadh compatriots Al-Shabab at the King Saud University Stadium.
With the SPL’s action showing no sign of slowing down, everyone will undoubtedly keep a close eye on the race to the Golden Boot.
Hamdallah will look to retain his personal title in his second season in the league, while Gomis will be hoping to replicate his personal Asian Champions League top scorer award success on the domestic stage this season.