x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Wasl coach calls for club to add to squad after their start to the season has been affected by the absences of Mariano Donda and Rashid Essa.

With players either injured or suspended coach Laurent Banide is hoping his Al Wasl side will receive reinforcements before Sunday's transfer window closes. Sarah Dea / The National
With players either injured or suspended coach Laurent Banide is hoping his Al Wasl side will receive reinforcements before Sunday's transfer window closes. Sarah Dea / The National

DUBAI // Bowed by injury and suspension to key players, coach Laurent Banide said Al Wasl require some significant strengthening before the transfer window shuts on Sunday.

The Zabeel Stadium side have not enjoyed the greatest start to their season, losing two of three matches across the Arabian Gulf League and League Cup.

Last Saturday’s opening-day defeat to Sharjah was particularly disappointing as Wasl, already without the banned Mariano Donda, also lost Rashid Essa to injury.

The UAE national team midfielder, deemed his team’s finest Emirati, has aggravated the knee problem that curtailed his 2012/13 campaign.

Wasl anxiously await the results of his MRI scan.

Donda, meanwhile, was suspended for five matches after his red card against Al Shabab earlier this month.

The playmaker’s punishment has been reduced to three games, which means he is still ineligible for Saturday’s league encounter at Al Jazira.

For a young side attempting to cope with the demands of a fresh league season, the absences are acutely felt. Banide, therefore, has called on the club to further augment the squad.

“Of course, I’m in need of some other players and if there are talented players available they are welcome at the club,” the Frenchman said.

“We have opened talks with some clubs; there are negotiations.

“You saw in the three matches we’ve had suspensions and injuries, which has made things very difficult. So, yes, we should sign players who can cover the absences and injuries and all these negative aspects.”

The gaps in the team only increase the pressure on Andre Senghor, the previously prolific striker signed on loan last month from Baniyas.

Senghor has been, rather harshly, criticised for failing to find the net in his three matches, prompting Banide to stress the need for restraint.

“We know there is a lot of pressure to score goals and, as strikers, they’re expected to score, but we should be a little patient and I’m sure then he will get goals,” Banide said.

“If you’d like a striker to score, the right balls should be given to him. Up to now, Senghor has not had that support.

“But we hope there will be an increase in performance not just from him, but the whole team.”

Senghor said he has been frustrated by his first month at Wasl.

He is a proven goalscorer at this level, leading the charts for Baniyas last season to take his league record for the past four campaigns to 60 goals in 83 matches.

He also suggested his minor drought has not been helped by an interrupted preseason.

“I never expected this start, but I will work very hard to come back and score again as I have done before,” Senghor said.

“But there has to be a period of adaptation.”

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GAME PREVIEWS *

BANIYAS v AL DHAFRA

Baniyas are closing in on a replacement for Christian Wilhelmsson, right, the Swedish midfielder who joined them during last season’s January transfer window but who will now leave the Abu Dhabi club.

“The first choice is a Latin American and if that falls through, we have an Arab player. For sure, we will have one of them completing the move before the transfer window closes on Sunday,” said Khaled Al Junaibi, the club’s media and communications manager.

The new signing would mean Baniyas have offloaded all of the foreign quartet that were at the club when Jorge Da Silva took charge in the summer. Luis Farina, the Argentine midfielder, and Carlos Munoz, the Chilean striker, are the club’s foreign players. Omani defender Abdulsalam Al Mukhaini fills the Asian player slot. Baniyas beat Ajman 4-3 away last week and face Al Dhafra at home on Friday night.

“I hope we can show more improvement, particularly in the defence. This is a big chance to continue the winning start to the season,” the Uruguayan said.

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EMIRATES v DUBAI

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After making a winning return to the top flight, Eid Baroot said his Emirates side can keep up the momentum when they meet Dubai in their first home game. Baroot’s side kicked off their league campaign with a 3-1 win over Al Dhafra. They had earlier held Al Ahli to a draw in the League Cup.

“There are no easy games for us but the two previous results serve as a massive confidence booster for the players to try and win three points against Dubai,” the Emirati said.

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AL AHLI v AL WAHDA

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Cosmin Olaroiu has given a vote of confidence to Saif Yousuf, the goalkeeper who replaces Majed Naser. Ahli’s No  1 is out for six months after injuring himself doing celebratory backflips.

“This is an opportunity for Saif to prove himself a worthy replacement,” Olaroiu said. “Injuries are a phenomenon all clubs have to face at some point or another but teams with ambitions to win trophies will have adequate cover to face such crises.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae