Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

With Tehran trip, road ahead tough for Al Wahda

The club face a daunting task taking on more than 11 players in front of 100,000 non-partisan fans when they take on Iranian giants Persepolis.

Football managers often refer to their home fans as a 12th player for their ability to inspire the team. So Al Wahda face a daunting Champions League task tonight in front of 100,000 non-partisan fans when they take on the Iranian giants Persepolis in Tehran.

Josef Hickersberger, the Wahda coach, has said simply avoiding defeat in the cauldron of the Azadi Stadium would be a satisfying result.

The Pro League champions are going through a frustrating period. They lost their past two Pro League games to Al Ahli and Kalba, the league's bottom team, and were beaten in the semi-finals of the Etisalat Cup by Al Shabab.



UAE Champions League clubs need to buck an alarming trend
Al Jazira left battered by Sepahan in Iran


"It will be unrealistic to say we are going with confidence when the team has had such poor results in the past few games," the Austrian said. "I will be happy to return with a point that would still keep our hopes alive and, more importantly, [leave us] in a better state of mind for the President's Cup semi-final [against Al Wasl on Sunday]."

Hickersberger has injury problems with strikers Fernando Baiano and Ismail Matar both not 100 per cent fit.

"We have to play two important games within three days and we can't take a lot of chances in risking some of the key players," the coach said. "Therefore we will play a defensive strategy and try to score from the counter attacks. It doesn't mean we are travelling with a defeatist mindset. We will try to win, but our main objective will be not to lose."

Wahda drew 1-1 against the Uzbek side Bunyodkor in their opening match at home a fortnight ago. Persepolis lost 3-1 away to Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia.

Tonight's other game involving a UAE team sees Emirates, the President's Cup holders from Division One, take on Qatar's Al Rayyan.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Chris Burch will play fly-half as part of a new-look back line for the UAE national rugby union team that will face Singapore at The Sevens grounds in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National

Chris Burch to lead UAE’s charge against Singapore

he UAE’s bid to safeguard their place in the second tier of Asian rugby against Singapore next week will be piloted by a player who was contemplating retirement from the sport at this time last year.

 Seiichi Shimomura, centre, is part of a Japan squad that is the gold standard for sides such as the UAE, here in a Asian Five Nations rugby match at Dubai on May 10, 2013 and Singapore aspire to reach. Marwan Naamani / AFP

UAE and Singapore are rugby teams with a similar tale to tell

The UAE versus Singapore in rugby: a battle to see whether our expatriates are better than their expatriates, surely? Well, maybe not for much longer.

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 Sharjah Cricket Stadium's colorful past was never like this – the IPL match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils was loud, raucous and commerical. Pawan Singh / The National

No need for rose-coloured glasses when Sharjah Cricket Stadium host IPL

Sharjah still plays well as India's home away from home when it comes to big-time cricket, but the commercial overtones were in overdrive.

 Jorginho accepts the challenge that lies ahead for Al Wasl's improvement, and the club says it will give him time ... if they see results.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Wasl will give Jorginho time but results in Arabian Gulf League are needed

Al Wasl officials said they will provide Jorginho, their new coach, sufficient time to change the club’s fortunes while also warning that his fate ultimately will depend on results.

 Mickael Barzalona riding Sudden Wonder, left, to victory in the Tattersalls Millions Trophy at Newmarket racecourse on April 17, 2014 in Newmarket, England. Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images

Godolphin boosted by performances of two fresh horses at Newmarket

Be Ready underwhelms in Craven Stakes during otherwise successful day for stables


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National