ABU DHABI // Franky Vercauteren faces his first test as the Al Jazira coach when he leads the team against capital rivals, Al Wahda, tonight in the Super Cup, the opening match of the 2011/12 domestic football season.
"We are going into our first game with some very positive work," said the Belgian, who took over only last week as a replacement for Abel Braga at the club.
"We must thank for the work Braga did last season to win both the league and the President's Cup, otherwise we wouldn't be playing in this Super Cup this season," Vercauteren said.
"I am here to continue with that work and win more titles."
A victory at the Baniyas stadium tonight would allow Jazira to simultaneously hold three of the four UAE domestic trophies.
Wahda won the league in 2010 and played Jazira to draws in both league games last season.
Wahda were conspicuous by their inactivity during the close season, but the coach, Josef Hickerberger, is optimistic that they will be a match for their city rivals.
The four-time league champions open the season with no changes in their foreign-player roster and no local signings.
In fact, they offloaded the club stalwarts Abdulraheem Jumaa to Al Jazira, Fahed Masoud to Al Wasl and Hassan Ameen to Al Nasr.
They also will be without their influential forward, Ismail Matar, who is recovering from a knee surgery, and Hamdan Al Kamali, the central defender who suffered a cheekbone fracture in the UAE's 3-2 defeat to Kuwait in the 2014 World Cup qualifier on September 2.
Hickersberger believes he will have a strong line-up for the game.
"I can't reveal the team composition and those who may not be able to play due to injuries in this game, but we are ready for them," the Austrian said.
"It was not easy to organise the team when six or seven players were away on national duty, but we have had a couple of days to work with them and we will think of how to optimise our chances to win this game."
Saleh Obaid, the Jazira captain, said that he expects Wahda to be strong opponents.
"It has always been a big game for us against Al Wahda," he said. "They may have been inactive during the summer but we respect them because they have great players and several of them are in the national team."
Jazira will be without Ali Kasheif, the injured goalkeeper, and Yaser Matar, the defender.
KO, Baniyas stadium, 7.30pm