DUBAI // Al Wasl will be looking to find solutions to their early second-half blues when they host Dubai rivals Al Ahli in a League Cup match tonight.
In five of their six official matches this season, Wasl have conceded a goal in the opening three minutes of the second half. The only exception was their opening League Cup match against Al Shabab, when Laurent Banide’s men returned home with a 1-0 win.
In their second League Cup match, a 2-1 loss at home to Al Dhafra, Hassan Al Hammadi struck the opening goal of the game in the 48th minute. Last Friday, in the 3-0 loss to Emirates, Luiz Henrique was on target in the 46th minute.
In their Arabian Gulf League matches, Fellype Gabriel’s 48th-minute strike was the lone goal in Sharjah’s win, while Ricardo Oliveira made it 2-2 for Al Jazira in the 48th minute before Fahad Hadeed struck the winner for Wasl.
Even Al Shaab, who suffered a 4-1 defeat, managed a goal in that period, with Mohammed Malallah finding the net in the 46th minute.
Frenchman Banide has blamed this problem on a lack of commitment from his players and accused them of showing little pride in wearing the yellow Wasl jersey.
“There is no spirit in this team, which makes me really worried,” the Wasl coach said. “When a player wears a club jersey, he needs to show respect and pride, and fight for the team.
“Unfortunately, that has not been happening. What we do in training is very different to what we do in a match. There is clear lack of focus, which is the reason why we keep conceding goals in the first few minutes of the second half. I have been talking to the players about this [goals early in the second half] for a long time, but there has been no improvement and this is unacceptable.
“We cannot afford such complacency and the players need to realise that. We have to work really hard to correct these problems. When you play for a great team, you carry a greater responsibility and the players need to realise that. You need to play with your heart and soul, and show no fear of opponents.”
The coaching staff, according to Banide’s Emirati assistant Salem Abdulrahman, have been talking to the players since the loss to Emirates about this problem and trying to find solutions, and he hopes tonight’s match will prove to be a turning point.
“Individual errors have been responsible for these goals, and such errors tend to affect the morale of the rest of the players,” he said. “So we have been talking to the players and hopefully this match against Ahli will be opportunity for them to show their commitment.”
As Wasl search for solutions to their problems, the Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu will be using this match to give an opportunity to the younger members of his squad such as Walid Ambar, Abdulrahman Yousuf and Ali Darwish.
“We might play these UAE Olympic team players, but it depends on their readiness,” Olaroiu said. “We will use this match to give an opportunity to players who have not participated much in the league games.
“This is an opportunity for us to give our younger players a chance and assess their technical and physical readiness for the season ahead.”
Dubai v Al Jazira
Luis Milla, the Al Jazira coach, has warned his players against underestimating Dubai as they travel to the Al Awir club. Dubai are bottom of Group A, with one point from three games – a 2-2 draw against Al Shaab; they lost 1-0 at Al Wahda and 2-0 at Sharjah in their other League Cup matches, but Milla believes those results do not reflect the true potential of their opponents. “Dubai are a strong and aggressive opponent, with a fighting mentality,” the Spaniard said. “They keep looking for goals and a positive result, no matter how complicated the match is.”
5.10pm, DSC Stadium
Baniyas v Al Shaab
Marius Sumudica will be battling to keep his job as he takes his team to the unbeaten Baniyas. The Al Shaab coach has watched his team lose five of their six matches this season, with a 2-2 draw against Dubai in the League Cup being his best result. The Romanian has been facing growing scrutiny, but has got a vote of confidence from Nasser Al Talyani, a board member, who dismissed rumours about talks with former Al Wahda boss Josef Hickersberger as a possible replacement. However, if Shaab’s result do not improve soon, the club might be forced to look for a change.
8.30pm, Baniyas Stadium