ABU DHABI // Al Wahda have five UAE internationals and four foreigners in their line-up, which looks impressive on paper. It has been the case for several years with sometimes six or more being called up for national duty.
Yet for some reason, the team has failed to deliver since their last league triumph in 2010. They have won the league four times in the last 14 years but it has been followed up each time with a mediocre season.
Wahda have already had a poor start to the season and are lying ninth in the league table at nine points, 13 behind the leaders Al Ahli.
Eisa Ahmed, the right-back and one of the five players in the national squad, explained their plight.
“We have five players in the UAE team and if you look at the line-up only two or three play,” he said.
“Sometimes we go to the national team to prove ourselves. Sometimes we don’t get the chance to play. We are in a camp for almost three weeks and we don’t get to play a game.
“When we return, we hardly have three days to prepare for the next club game. When we return to the club we have a different mentality. I believe this is one of the reasons for the results in the past two games.”
Wahda meet the second-placed Al Shabab tonight at Al Nahyan stadium and Ahmed warned the visitors to look out for a “recharged” home side.
“Everyone will see a definite change in our mentality against Shabab,” he said. “We can’t talk about our plans but obviously to win the three points would be our objective from this game.
“We still have 18 games to play, including the game against Shabab. That means 54 points to play for. In my opinion the league is still wide open as of now. There are several teams with the chance of winning the league and we are one of those teams.
“The new coach has made some tactical changes and above all motivated us psychologically. We are going into this game with new hopes and fresh objectives. We have got that confidence and three points will be a turning point for us.”
Jose Peseiro, who took charge from Karel Jarolim two weeks ago, has one point from his two games, losing to Al Jazira 4-3 after an injury-time goal and then overseeing a 3-3 draw against Al Wasl last Thursday.
“We are going to play against the second team in the league and we know we need to play true to our potential for a good result over them,” the Portuguese manager said.
“I have seen two good games from my team and if we can keep playing in the same way, by having [lots of] possession and shots at the goal, we have a good chance to achieve a good result against Shabab.”
Peseiro will miss the services of Marco Estrada, the Chile international, along with Hamdan Al Kamali, Mohammed Al Shehhi, and Suhail Al Mansoori due to injuries.
“The injuries are not a problem for me and this is normal in any team,” the coach said. “We will not take that as an excuse because we have enough cover for those who are not available.”
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