ABU DHABI // The Al Ain coach Winfried Schaefer knows his team are up against their biggest test of the season when they face Al Wahda at the Al Nahyan stadium. "It is a big game and three points from it will put us in a strong position," said a confident German, who serves the second of his two-match ban handed out by the competition committee for his involvement in a brawl after a league clash with Al Nasr.
"It is torture for me to watch my players from the stands, and as for the players, they are very clear in what needs to be done on the pitch. We are missing a couple of players but I think we are still good enough as a team to beat Wahda." Ain will be without two of their foreign players, Brazilian Andre Diaz, also serving a two-match ban for the same incident, and the injured Moroccan international Soufiane Alloude.
But with their influential forward Jorge Valdivia to spearhead the attack, the Ain camp will be hopeful to return with three points. And Schaefer too believes in Valdivia they have a players equivalent to two on the pitch. "He has already showed his class and it will take more than one player to stop him, even from a half-a-chance. Ain are the only unbeaten team in the league, and the Wahda coach Ahmed Abdulhaleem is already feeling the heat after some below-par recent performances from his team.
"We were a little flat in the last few games but that certainly can't continue," said Abdulhaleem. "We have worked on those areas where we need to improve and a good result is what we are looking at." Mohammed Othman sits out a one-match ban and Fahad Masoud and Abdulla Noubi have been ruled out with injuries but Brazilian Alecsandro Barbosa returns to action after a lengthy injury to join a strong Wahda squad. who will be looking to upset nine-times champions Ain.